Portsmouth’s fight for survival will go to the wire but a takeover by fans is feasible, the club’s administrator said today.
However, Trevor Birch, head of PKF insolvency practice, warned that liquidation remained a real threat.
A takeover by a Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust (PST) share scheme may be possible if two or three “high net worth” individuals or the city council back the plan, Birch said.
The Trust could also mount a rescue bid if Pompey do go into liquidation and form a new club playing lower down the league pyramid.
Former owner Balram Chainrai may also contemplate another takeover to try to recoup the £17million he is owed, while two other interested parties – one English, one from overseas – have yet to provide any proof of funds.
Birch told Press Association Sport: “I think it is going to go to the wire, it’s going to be the 11th hour.
“The Football League’s AGM is at the end of the month and we have to be talking in some sort of positive terms to move beyond that.”
Birch said he is still hoping to persuading Portsmouth’s high-earning players, such as Israeli international Tal Ben Haim, to agree a deal to end his contract early and free the club from the burden of paying his wages.
PST chairman Ashley Brown said he is hopeful that a combination of individual fans pledging £1,000 each for shares, plus some high-earning supporters taking out considerable stakes, could lead to a credible bid.
Letters will go out to all season ticket holders this week, while a database of 100,000 fans obtained by the club is being used to try to get more support.
Brown is targeting 1,000 fans each pledging £1,000 and so far nearly 400 have come forward.
He said: “We are very positive about the response and we are also looking at other funding streams, such as other Pompey fans who can afford significantly more than £1,000, and different ways in which they can invest.”
Some £5m to £6m will have to be raised to take over the club, pay off some outstanding debts and have enough money to start the new season in League One, though there would be income from Premier League parachute payments and new season ticket sales.
If the worst should happen and Pompey go into liquidation, the Trust would still hope to rescue the club.
Brown said: “If the administrator is forced to move to liquidation we would still hope to be in a position to rescue the club from the liquidators and start a new Portsmouth Football Club, hopefully still at Fratton Park, but playing lower down the league tier initially.
“We hope to offer a safety net if all else fails.”