Portsmouth delay date with destiny

PORTSMOUTH claimed to have received two “serious” offers to buy the club during a hearing at the High Court when they were granted extra time to fight a winding-up petition from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs yesterday.

The Barclays Premier League’s bottom club were given seven days to produce a statement of affairs to HMRC to detail their exact financial position, with the matter being heard before a judge at the first available date after February 19.

Nigel Hood, representing Pompey, had asked for more than the week granted by Mrs Registrar Derrett but the time gives them breathing space in attempting to find a fifth owner of their turbulent season.

“Two offers have been received from what appear to be serious purchasers,” said Hood.

Balram Chainrai took charge last week when Ali Al Faraj defaulted payments on a loan, but the businessman is not interested in owning the club in the long term and chief executive Peter Storrie has been looking for new investors willing to take on the club’s debts.

HMRC claim Pompey owe them more than £11million in total. A figure of £7.4m of VAT is included in the winding-up petition, which Pompey are disputing.

Gregory Mitchell QC, representing HMRC, said: “It’s quite clear beyond any doubt at all that this company is insolvent. They have failed to provide any evidence at all as to their solvency. There are many debts and they are unpaid.”

Registrar Derrett said she had taken into consideration the consequences of a winding-up order – such as rescheduling the Premier League this season – but was forthright in her concerns about Pompey’s situation.

“I’m very concerned about the financial situation of this company,” she said.

Pompey had faced the potential of being shut down but having being given a reprieve, Vantis have been appointed to produce the statement of affairs to outline the finances of the club.


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