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Pompey court out but still alive - just

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Matt Slater | 10:46 UK time, Thursday, 11 February 2010

There was a moment on Wednesday, perhaps five seconds at most, when I thought court registrar Christine Derrett had heard just about enough of Portsmouth City Football Club Limited's excuses.

Having raced through hundreds of decisions (some big, some small, all involving unspoken stories of disappointment, failure or bad luck), she had run into a three-pipe problem.

Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and even other football clubs had been dealt with in efficient fashion, and it was now time for lunch.

So why was this barrister, Derrett could have been forgiven for thinking, giving me a sob story about returned points and disrupted TV schedules? It's the second time he's played this card, and it annoyed me the first time.

"I'm aware there are consequences to winding up a football team," she snapped, "but those are not my concern."

No, her concern was why an habitual defaulter was in her court pleading for more time: time that could well see more people lose more money, a situation she is obliged to avoid.

And then the flash of irritation passed, her voice softened and a more indulgent mood descended. Before long it was confirmed: after 112 years of not always inglorious history, Pompey would see at least another week, probably two.

But how much longer they linger is still in the balance.

On what was a very depressing day for British football (Southend United and Cardiff City also darkened Derrett's door and, like Portsmouth, they'll be back), the best that could be said of Portsmouth's result was that it could have been much, much worse.

A loyal Portsmouth fan outside the High CourtA loyal Portsmouth fan registers support for his club outside the High Court

The club's various directors, lawyers and advisors must now open up Fratton Park's big book of financial secrets and put together a compelling argument that the club can repay all its debts (£60m or so), and not just the significant sum it owes HM Revenue and Customs.

I say "significant" because, like so much else at the club this season, it is hard to provide a number that everybody can agree on.

In December, the taxman made a petition for payment of £11.5m in overdue VAT, National Insurance and PAYE. The VAT part came to £6.9m, of which Pompey claim they actually owe £1.1m. The rest, they say, is in "genuine dispute".

Last month, the club's call to remove the VAT from HMRC's winding-up petition was rejected, but the judge did give Pompey the right to appeal, a right they claimed last week and clung on to for dear life in Derrett's court.

The rationale for this was described by HMRC's barrister, Michael Gregory QC, as "ingenious", although he said it much the same way Sir Humphrey Appleby used to call Jim Hacker's decisions "brave".

With Pompey claiming the wrong party in football transfers (the buyer) has been paying the VAT all these years and nobody has realised, I believe Gregory was being polite.

While this VAT debate has been going on, Pompey have paid the rest of December's petition. Unfortunately, they have missed their scheduled PAYE payments for the last two months and now owe another £4.7m on top of the £7.4m VAT total that HMRC wants.

Like the lady said, Pompey look a lot like an insolvent company accruing ever more debt.

What convinced Derrett to give them more time - but not the month and a bit they were asking for - was not the heart-strings stuff about the 600 employees and loyal fans. No, it was the more prosaic reason of HMRC's counsel being given some very last-minute documentation on the club's latest owner, Balram Chainrai.

The Hong Kong-based, Nepalese-born, British citizen almost accidentally acquired Portsmouth last week when the ethereal Ali Al Faraj failed to meet the repayments on a loan Chainrai gave him to keep the club afloat.

Al Faraj, in case you missed him, only bought the club from Sulaiman Al Fahim in October. And Al Fahim had only bought it from Sacha Gaydamak a month and a half before. New owners, like lawyers, are something Pompey have not lacked this season.

Enough about the past, the forlorn faithful at Fratton Park have suffered enough. What about the future? The good news is that there is still a future. Just.

The "statement of affairs" Derrett has ordered must be completed by 1600 GMT on Wednesday, 17 February. HMRC will then be given two days to read it, before all parties return to Companies Court at the first available date after Friday, 19 February.

Portsmouth's lawyers could see this coming and had already instructed insolvency experts, Vantis plc, to be ready. As I mentioned earlier, they wanted 21 days for this work and a further 14 days to think about it. Gregory said no, they provided the Premier League with something like this only last month, so let's get on with it. Derrett agreed.

Daniel Azougy turns up at the High Court to hear Portsmouth's fateDaniel Azougy turns up at the High Court to hear Portsmouth's fate

This means Chainrai, chief executive Peter Storrie, director Mark Jacob, controversial advisor Daniel Azougy and any other remnants of previous regimes have almost two weeks to close a deal with one of the two potential buyers they claim are waiting in the wings. Which wings, I know not. The ones pigs use, perhaps?

Sorry, I'm being cruel. But that's the stage the club has reached now.

Outside the High Court, I bumped into Gerald Krasner of Bournemouth and Leeds United administrations fame. He was there on different business but stopped to chat about Pompey's options.

For him, it was straightforward. The club should opt for voluntary administration and start thinking about a debt-free rebirth in the Championship. He could not believe they even risked a winding-up showdown with a newly emboldened HMRC.

It is a view shared by others. SA Law's Guy Thomas advised Watford during their wobbles late last year and he believes administration is now inevitable for Pompey. Mishcon de Reya's Danny Davis, another restructuring expert, was withering about the business practices of many football clubs and said he was surprised it has taken them "so long to see the writing on the wall".

Administration is not an easy choice, though. The club's biggest creditors, Chainrai and ex-ex-ex-owner Sacha Gaydamak, would be very reluctant to go down that road, as will the numerous local suppliers owed thousands as opposed to millions. Smaller sums but vital to those concerned. There are also the club's non-football employees to consider.

And there will be fans who still cling to the hope of Premier League survival, despite being eight points adrift of safety. There was even one supporter at the High Court who talked about the club earning as much as £8m by winning the FA Cup. He was right to say it is possible. It's just not very likely.

But it is important to remember the most likely alternative to administration now looks like liquidation: a disaster for club, creditor and community.

All is not lost for the 2008 FA Cup winners, there is hope and they do have choices. But football as an industry will lose a club very soon if it does not learn the right lessons from a Companies Court winding-up petition list that includes three professional teams.

Despite what you may have read elsewhere, there were no "wins" in court for football on Wednesday, just shame, and it has to stop.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/bbc_matt

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Put quite simply, Portsmouth FC is a business first and a 'club' second.

    As a business it should work within the rules like any other business.

    I'll say now what I have said before, rather than us fans sitting around scratching our heads about this, someone should be asked to explain how a business has got into this much trouble in the first place.

    Are any officials accountable?

  • Comment number 2.

    "There were no "wins" in court for football on Wednesday, just shame, and it has to stop"

    You're right. This does have to stop. The obscene debt levels that some Premier League clubs have amassed are utterly incredible. But this won't stop until a club – Football League or Premier League - goes out of business over this.

    No-one in the upper echelons of football probably batted an eyelid when King's Lynn FC were wound up by the High Court. But if Portsmouth fail to save their skins, then it might prompt a few clubs to wake up to reality. Accrington, Cardiff, Southend etc... all granted repeated adjournments by the High Court. How long can this continue til enough is enough?

    And yet, the big loser in this whole debacle is the fans. But that doesn't factor into the decisions made at the top anymore...

  • Comment number 3.

    I suppose what awaits now will be the litmus test for all other clubs who will find themselves in this situation.
    Portsmouth say that they have a couple of serious interested parties in buying the club, but, are they any more interested in obtaining the club now than they were when Gaydamak announced his intentions to sell the club last year, or are they more interested in obtaining a Premiership club on the cheap if Pompey are put into administration next week. It is feasible that the hearing could fall on the same day as Notts County, who were given 28 days last month, and are showing no sign of their situation improving.

    I'd like to say that I see Portsmouth getting out of this one, but HMRC have played hardball with clubs ever since the Leeds administration issues a couple of years back, and this has been to the detriment of all clubs who have found themselves in these problems, from the Premiership downwards. Remember, they wouldn't be the first club to go to the wall this season, as Kings Lynn have folded for similar reasons.

    Portsmouth are the tip of a massive iceberg.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's indicative of the level of greed in football now that despite more money than ever flooding into the game from TV, merchandising etc., there are big clubs carrying obscene levels of debt and some in very real danger of bankruptcy.

    I mean, if teams who regularly get tens of thousands of fans in through the gates for premier league matches, and who earn tens of millions in TV revenue every season are struggling to make ends meet there is clearly something rotten in the game. Dodgy owners, agents and players are bleeding far too much cash out of the game - I don't object to footballers being well paid, but literally millions is being wasted on dross e.g. I read the other day that Kieron Dyer will end up costing West Ham £30 million in wages and transfer money over the duration of his contract - he's started only about 5 league games for them!

    Hopefully the mess that Pompey and others are currently in will be a wake up call.

  • Comment number 5.

    Until the Football Authorities (Prem, FA & FL) actually make rules to enforce that clubs have to limit their spending and especially players wages to around 50% of their annual income, this is never going to stop.

    There should be points deductions for not only administration, but if a club posts a net loss in a financial year.

    Football has had it far too easy for far too long. The HMRC have clearly had enough and they are legally bound to recover debts owing to them. It is obscene that money has poured out of clubs to agents and foreign clubs at the expense of them paying their UK taxes like everyone else has to in this country.

    Football needs some tough love for a few years. There will be pain and as ever, the fans of clubs will be the longstanding victims of other people's mismanagment, but unless clubs stop spending stupid amounts of money and getting involved with dubious financial arrangements... they will never learn.

  • Comment number 6.

    It may take a club of Portsmouth's stature to go out of business for English football to wake up to the fact that you can't keep spending more than you earn. Perhaps it's time (subject to agreement that it's legal) for clubs to agree salary caps and to reduce squad sizes to cut costs to manageable levels? It would be nice if we could get back to the days when clubs brought through youth team players rather than spending millions of pounds on players who spend most weeks sitting on the bench or watching from the stands.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's about time football woke up to the realities of the real world. Football was supposed to be about football, the fans and for the lucky few, trophies. Now it's prostituted as a global business. Players are paid vast sums of money, for kicking a leather bag of air around an area of grass for 90 minutes. Fan's are charged stupid sums of money to watch these prima-donnas who earn in a day what most of the fans could only dream of earning in a year. Clubs are bought on the basis of debt. Look at Man Utd, Liverpool. I think it would do the game a great deal of good if a really big premier league team went to the wall. Everyone in football needs a good dose of reality. This can't go on.

  • Comment number 8.

    #4 JMcK

    Kieron Dyer is a bad example of what I think you are trying to get at due to injuries, one of them being particularly unfortunate and horrific.

    #5 ChocolateBoxKid

    As I said in point #1, the clubs are businesses first and foremost and it is difficult to the point of impossibility for the football authorities to prescribe how a business should be run.

    There are rules for businesses, which HMRC is now applying and the fault lies with whoever was running Portsmouth when the debts were run up, not the football authorities.

    I think most of us are sitting wondering just how this situation has arisen. It certainly hasn't arisen overnight and the question is, when the team was at it's peak, cicra 2008 FA Cup, just how bad was the position behind the scenes at that time and why has it taken this long for the situation to be brought into check.

  • Comment number 9.

    Who now remembers Scarborough or Maidstone? These clubs no longer exist and disappeared without much notice being taken by the national media. Were their fans less deserving than Portsmouth's? Did their employees not lose their jobs?

    At least Portsmouth has a way out of their mess and they do not need to go to the wall like Scarborough did. Gerald Krasner is dead right: administration would sort things out immediately and we would be spared this ridiculous soap opera. The problem is that administration means almost certain relegation from the Premier League because of a nine point deduction, and those in charge at Portsmouth cling to the vain hope that this can somehow be avoided. They are however gambling with the very future of the club in order to avoid certain relegation and sureley a new life in the lower division is preferable to no life at all?

  • Comment number 10.

    In some ways the most signifcant thing about this blog (excellent by the way) is that none the previous comments (and this is on a sports blog, not a business one) are sympathetic to portsmouth and the other clubs in this position. Even football fans have had enough of this. HMRC have clearly decided that they are not going to act like an overdraft facility for football anymore, and if takes a club going to the wall to wake people up to that so be it. And I think I agree with them (whether I would agree if it was Newcastle in this position is another question - and we can't be that far away). A club should not be able to gain an advantage on the field by buying and paying players it can't afford, and then when it fails to make it pay just rip it up and start again. Yes, fans will suffer, but in administration so do all the local businesses that are owed money, the council tax payers (the police get short-changed) and the non-playing workforce at the club (who get made redundant).

  • Comment number 11.

    A good read as always, Matt. Agree with you that talk of investors waiting in the wings has a dubious smell to it. However, can you see Chanrai stumping up more money in an attempt to protect his investment?

  • Comment number 12.

    I am amazed at the decision of the court in a way. Portsmouth clearly aren't getting in any where near the amount of money that is going out (and if a couple of ther law suits (Cambell, Gaydamak) go against them the problem only gets worse). Their only hope is to get a new owner or investor, but who in their right mind will invest in a company which is haemorraging money in this way.
    Don't get me wrong, I feel desperately sorry for the Pompey fans but I really think that something should be done by the FA, PL, UEFA or whoever to prevent a club from getting into this position. Surely when Pompey bought James, Kanu, Campbell, DeFoe, Crouch et al for big fees and on massive wages which they could never service on gates of 20k alarm bells should have been ringing and something should have been done. Should any of the owners of the big four (plus ManCity and probably a few others, including Real Madrid and several Serie A clubs) decide to just quit and demand their cash back, then they will be in the same position as Pompey. Is it just a matter of time?

  • Comment number 13.

    The financial and chief execs have a lot to answer for, the failure to pay these taxes is direct theft from the nation and I'm pretty angry about that before I even think about the fact that those involved will get away with it while the fans will have to suffer. How much internal pressure did Dirty Harry put on those at the club to pass acquisitions they could not afford? Or was it just down to those laying out the budgets?

  • Comment number 14.

    isnt it fair to see that the reason pompey have not filed for admin to give them a fighting chance next season is because of the vested interests of previous owners who know they will not see any money back if this transpires. thats shame for pompey.

    pompey fans clinging on to prem survival are missing the point, its the survival of the club in its present form that is the key issue. for me pompey are going down, better to take the hit on admin this season. they wont, will try to limp on, will go down, and evetually into admin, they will then incur further penalties for failing to come out of admin correctly. with a squad that will be sold pompey will face 20/30 points minus in the championship that will relegate them to lg 1.

    if they go into admin now it may give them a chance for next season.

  • Comment number 15.

    #13 pidgeGULL

    Whatever you think of Harry, he was not the one writing the cheques.

    A better question would be to ask the auditors (an audit of a company this size is compulsory) what they thought and indeed, what is on the audit report that would have been submitted to Companies House as part of the financial statements.

  • Comment number 16.

    In cases like this it's always the fans that take the brunt, the employees on average wages and the poor creditors, usually small local businesses that cannot afford to lose money. The directors and players on obscene wages just walk away and start somewhere else, The situation at my club (Liverpool) is very worrying. We have been saddled with huge debts, pay out ridiculous amounts of money on transfers and wages and don't even get a decent team to watch this season. Football is like looking into an asylum where the madmen are in charge. Fans will always come last no matter what blathering you hear on the tv from players, chairmen etc. We want our clubs back!!!!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    What a useless article?? I don't think you have shed any light on this what so ever??
    The problem is there is no financial control from the FA, this in turn leaves football clubs to run however they see fit and in all premeirship clubs cases equire a great deal of debt.
    The HMRC stated Portsmouth FC were trading while being insolvent?? Which begs the question how do they come to that conclusion when income is still coming into the club? How do they measure when a club is so far in debt that they will not have the income to be able to make payment? How do they know that PFC will not have an increase in revenue in the next few years that will make them comfortable enough to pay debts regularly.
    If PFC are trading insolvent then the likes of Man UTd and Liverpool are as well. Cause i cant see Man Utd paying £600 Mill off in 10 years?

    The FA need to step in and start capping wages, transfer fees and everything associated with football.
    All in all Its the premier league that has failed Pompey with its make believe fit and proper test???? Its almost laughable.

  • Comment number 18.

    A few other points, firstly if Portsmouth did go into administration there would be a problem in that the transfer window has closed so there's a limit to how they can get money in quickly. Is having a transfer window viable in this financial environment, i.e. only limited times during the season why you can sell players?

    And secondly, why is it in cases such as this whereas no one knows how much portsmouth owe, football clubs are allowed to make signings for undisclosed fees all the time. How can anyone, including the authorities be sure of the fees, taxes etc involved in undisclosed transfers??

  • Comment number 19.

    I read the other day that the banks supported by US were not lending enough to businesses,partly they said because they could not find enough businesses to lend to. Well, lets solve that problem and let them lend it to Portsmouth who can then pay the taxman !!!!!!!!!!!! One arm of UK PLC can thyen be paid by another arm of UK PLC.

    Portsmouth are indicative of what is wrong in this country, and examples need to be made to put the S!!!!!!!!!!!! up others.

    The Inland Revenue should pursue ALL clubs from the top to the bottom as soon as they are owed money. One of the problems is that clubs are not pursued vigourously enough, you need to create a situation where they know failure to adhere to the common law will result in IMMEDIATE winding up action. They are a business, the fact that they have 20-30000 customers + staff + suppliers is irrelevant. The high Streets are said to have 20% empty shops, dont see leniency from the courts with those companies that have disappeared, football is no different

    Its clear that supporters will follow clubs with blind faith, the result is that those in charge of the clubs generally pay lip service to the customer. The result is that clubs will not change their ways, continuing to pay not excessive but obscene salaries and perks. Well if the fans cannot exercise influence to bring the clubs back to reality, I think HMRC will do us all a favour by pursuing these clubs as they would any other business defaulting. Maybe that would bring a change of attitude.

  • Comment number 20.

    #17: I think you will find that the worst people to owe money to is the HMRC. Also, clubs like Liverpool, Man Utd etc are still servicing their debt (just!). Portsmouth owe money to every man and his dog. The shame is that the Premier League rules allows this state of affairs to happen. Footballs governing bodies FIFA, UEFA etc should get together and try to clean the mess up that is football finance in this country before it is ruined by greed and bad management.

  • Comment number 21.

    Wolvez17
    "The problem is there is no financial control from the FA, this in turn leaves football clubs to run however they see fit and in all premeirship clubs cases equire a great deal of debt."
    The problem is that we live in a free market economy and the owners of a business can run it how they see fit. If they chose to gamble the future of the company by making investements it cannot afford to lose out on then so be it. The EPL or FA cannot directly tell any owner how to run their football club.
    What the Premier League CAN do is to lay down a set of rules to protect the integrity of its competition by ensuring that all clubs have the financial stability to guarantee that even in extreme circumstances, such as an owner demanding their money back or getting hit by a bus or whatever that clubs entering have sufficent revenue streams to enable them to pay their projected outgoings (wages, tax, policing, transfer fees, maintenance costs, bonuses etc) over that season. Clubs would stay within that limit to ensure they gain entry to the EPL the next season and so on. Problem is that even following the situation Portsmouth are in, you'll never get the Premier League clubs to sign up for such a stricture as so few would currently be allowed to continue. Liverpool and ManUtd can barely keep up with the interest on their debt. Shoudl Hicks/Gilette or the Glaziers suddenly decide to quit, sell the club for a loss then demand money back both would be in trouble. Should either club fail to qualify for the Champions League, they'll be in trouble.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yeah good comments there John (not), The fact they have staff + suppliers is irrelevant?? I'm sure those "staff members" being threatened of job loss would tell you how relevant they are. Closing down large establishments to scaremonger others is not a great tactic as then you would have big organisation's like football clubs shreading staff just to help with their debts and not just senior staff, it would be staff on minimum wages which the likes of football clubs hire a lot of.
    Those who have lossed their jobs would then not have any money to spend in the high streets and then more another 20% of shops will close due to lack of business. (see the vicious circle appearing)
    What needs to happen in regards to footbal is a structured capping of the players wages and transfer fees thus allowing further funds from revenue to be put into other areas of the footbal club (like hiring more minimum waged staff members).
    The only organisation I can see enforcing and getting this to happen is the FA / League bosses?

  • Comment number 23.

    As I believe, the various football bodies are "associations" of which their clubs are members of that association and have to abide by it's rules if they want to play in their competitions.

    So although it's true all clubs are Companies and are governed by Corporation and Civil law of both the country they operate in and the EU as a whole....

    ...they still have to abide by the laws of the association they belong to, to enable them to ply their trade. So I can't see why the Football Authorities can't lay down much more strict rules on ownership & finances.

    But I guess the reason, especially for the Premier league is that they don't want the big clubs to go off and form their own league again with their own rules... especially with the ever present threat of a Euro Super League for the top 6-ish.

  • Comment number 24.

    I seem to think Pompey's problems can be traced back well over 20 years. Back in the mid-late 70's the club nearly went under due to financial crisis.

    I was at college there in the late 80s when the club put in planning permission to redevelop Fratton Park. Capacity back then was probably 25,000 (I'm sure someone will correct me on this!) with a lot of that standing and I seem to think that the redeveloped ground could have coped with 35,000 seated. Planning permission was not granted. The then chairman, one of the Gregory family - I can't remember which, presided over some more of our darkest hours. Close to relegation and effectively bankrupt again.

    Then, touched by the hand of a certain Mr Venables (buy for a pound - sell for a mint) ring any bells Leeds fans?.

    Now once again in the deepest crisis ever. Fratton Park could be filled twice over week in week out - look at how many fans went to Wembley back in May 2008 - and I think it all stems back to those days at the end of the 80s when we never got planning permission for the new ground...
    IMHO

    Pompey forever!

  • Comment number 25.

    Thank you ChocolatBoxKid, exactly my point.
    Though I think if another league started it would not be a bad thing. I could see those who still exist in a league that created financial restrictions thriving and prospering and Im sure the football would still be enjoyable?? After all Footbal is Football!!
    If my team carried on in a league with restrictions I will still support them. For Sure.

  • Comment number 26.

    The Premier League should impose restrictions and monitor clubs more closely. Part of the problem is they want clubs to spend big in an effort to increase competition. The Premier League itself competes against other leagues for TV revenue etc, so it wants clubs to spend every penny they can to bring in players that will help make it easy to sell TV rights.

    The Pompey situation could happen to any club and it underlines how little the average fan matters at the end of the day. The Premier League is a horrible, souless place. I think it is often more fun to support a team outside it.

  • Comment number 27.

    re 21:
    "The problem is that we live in a free market economy and the owners of a business can run it how they see fit. If they chose to gamble the future of the company by making investements it cannot afford to lose out on then so be it. The EPL or FA cannot directly tell any owner how to run their football club."

    I'm not sure that this is entirely true. Isn't it the case that the MSL (in the United States) requires its member football clubs to operate within strict guidelines on salaries, etc? I know that EU law is different from the United States but I'm not aware of whether any European football association has sought a ruling on whether there is scope to introduce salary caps or other measures?

  • Comment number 28.

    Wolvez17

    Why should football clubs be treated differently than other businesses ?

    My point is that they should NOT be treated so but because they have the feeling that they are untouchable they make decisions which would not otherwise be made if they knew they would be pulled up quickly. What happens is that they continually get breathing space but do they learn ? Do they !!!!!!!!!!! They are taking the mickey out of football supporters, they are taking the mickey out of the taxpayers, they are taking the mickey full stop.

    Time for the laughing to stop

  • Comment number 29.

    The shocking thing that has become apparent is that the money owed to the taxman is not even the football clubs. They have been withholding tax paid by their customers and fans (VAT) and their employees (PAYE and NI). This seems almost fraudulent.
    The fact the EPL fit and proper does not require the new owner to present himself in London with a bank statement proving he has sufficient funds to pay off all debts is why Pompey and so many other clubs (West Ham) are in this mess.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have to agree with you John. Football clubs should not be treated any differently to any other business. That is what they have set themselves up as now, big business. If the small ad agency I work for didn't pay HMRC we would be out of business quicker than a premiership footballer swaps cars (or wives!). Yes, it's tough on all the employees who are paid a pittance - but that's business I'm afraid. It's the reckless spending on players wages, bonuses, transfer fees, agents fees, directors perks etc etc that is destroying the game. In fact I no longer see it as a game - it's become joke, with us the fans, the butt of the joke every time. My club, Liverpool, has become a financial (and playing) mess in the space of a season and a half. I think I might start supporting my local non-league team - at least that is real.

  • Comment number 31.

    It has to happen sooner or later and probably sooner is best. Bail out the bankers and they carry on in their own sweet way as if nothing has changed.
    Keep giving leeway to football clubs and they will do exactly the same.
    Even "voluntary administration" is a bit of a cop-out. As ever the 'ordinary' people will suffer but the club will go on. If the myriad governing bodies do not see it is time to change this problem will recur.

  • Comment number 32.

    Wolfe71: Yes, MLS does have a salary cap, but keep in mind that that is only one piece of a much larger, completely different model for how professional sports operate. You can't separate that one piece from all the rest and expect it to work. In addition to a salary cap, we have a closed shop - no promotion or relegation. We also have restrictions on membership, including geographical exclusivity for existing franchises (no having 5 clubs in one city in the same league!) There is also an entry draft, with clubs finishing near the bottom allowed to pick the best incoming players and they have exclusive rights to sign them - players can't just sign with whatever club they want. Also, all players contracts are governed by a central bargaining agreement, agreed to by the players union and the league, not the individual clubs.

    Basically, while our nation is capitalist and based on free market principles, our sports leagues are socialist with a strong central controlling government. Unless you embrace that as well for your sports leagues, salary cap alone won't do anything.

  • Comment number 33.

    #31.

    Even "voluntary administration" is a bit of a cop-out. As ever the 'ordinary' people will suffer but the club will go on.

    ===============================================================

    Quite right. It's all built on debt! Just like people who over extend themselves with easy credit it still has to be paid back. I'm getting heartily sick of the way football has gone in this country. Money mad and to hell with the fans. I'm sick of reading about the off field antics of over paid men who in reality are spoilt children who haven't the brains to cope with the obscene amounts of money they are paid for booting a bit of leather about. GRRRRR!!!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Administration looks a tricky one for the club. Chainrai and Guydamak stand to lose out to the tune of £46m between them, although the same will happen if they are made insolvent and wound up. From the fans perspective, relegation is now an irrelevance, it's going to happen, and is not really that important in the scheme of things, so 9 point deduction is more than palatable.
    The club owes £46m (reported) to the current and previous owner. However, at this point in time, the debts are largely irrelevant as they will not be "called in", which would result in certain administraion/ insolvency (and them kissing goodbey to their money). What matters is what is due immediatelty to other creditors, most notably HMRC. If investment (not a loan) can be found, to satisfy at least a decent part of these debts, be it from Chainrai or elsewhere, in the next week, Portsmouth have a chance. The total commitment outside of Guydamak and Chainrai's loans only stands at about £15m, so is not a huge obstacle (compared to some other club's commitments).
    Portsmouth are a warning to other clubs to get their houses in order.
    By the way, I agree that the PL is a soulous place dominated by 4/5 clubs. Inhabited by over-paid prima donas, over ambitious chairmen and boards, and over-paying fans watching largely a load of dross (I speak from experience on the last count).
    As a Pompey fan, I would rather see us stable, with a decent youth set-up, some honest, modestly paid players, even if it is in League 1 (but preferably the Championship!).
    Oh, and without Peter "Teflon" Storrie, how the hell does he survive? (on £1.3m a year as well!).

  • Comment number 35.

    However you like to put it, football is in a crisis however it is not alone. In fact it is symptomatic of the wider failures of a global recession; not only in its issues with financial mismanagement but how we are all complicit in its downfall.

    As supporters we often decry the owners for their failure to run a football club, the FA have not imposed stringent sanctions to force people to work within their budget and regulatory bodies have failed to stop this behaviour becoming commonplace. Yet we fail to face up to our own collusion in creating this situation.

    Just as in the financial crisis we as a whole often turned a blind eye whilst the positive aspects were lavished upon us, within football it is the supporter, whose dramatic swings and skewed perspective have contributed to the current predicament many clubs find themselves in.
    After all many Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd fans were happy to cite jealously when questioned on the disproportionate spending powers lavished upon these clubs. Though with Manchester United and especially Notts County it is easy to see the sustainability of this mode is fundamentally flawed. The ramifications of inequality go far beyond petty jealousy. Sport, unlike most business models is based around competition as well as success. It model thrives upon the need for rivalries, drama; in fact just like soap plot lines it needs something to interest the supporter, more than just the football. After all if it were just football that was of interest then it is available in every park, path of green or place one can throw down two jumpers.

    The inequality of money breeds an inequality on the pitch that bores fans and it could be argued that it is the off field crises that have been of more interest than the matches. The travails of Newcastle and Portsmouth; the antics of Drogba and Co after the defeat at Barcelona. Even the constant haranguing of referees and their decision echoes long after the matches and it is these talking points that are seized upon over the quality of the football and the skill of the individual and collective team.

    So footballs soap opera continues, with talk in shows like 606 regularly showing the unrealistic demands of the fans whipped into such hysteria and hyperbole that it’s no wonder those on the pitch and running the game react with equal ineptitude.

    Fans of teams in the top half of the premiership claiming their team are rubbish, or there are no decent players at the club. After a run of two defeats there is a crisis. Issues such as Arsenals lack of silverware in recent seasons is a classic example; from a business model they are running perfectly with a profit, able to modestly expand and are in top level competition to maximise revenue streams. Now fans and media alike are complaining that they have not won any trophies, then within the same second point out they would rather get into the champions league than win the FA Cup.

    The ludicrousness of this situation beggars belief and goes to show the bubble in which football exists. With the advent of a blame culture, most prevalent at referees when surely the argument at the very least should be whether twenty-two adults all trying to cheat one man to gain an advantage should be defended, we are happy to foist blame on all and sundry rather than laying it at our own feet.

    Yes these are the decision makers and yes they do not have to listen to us, however as fans themselves often state, we are the lifeblood of the game, one that does not exist without us. So surely following this thought pattern, it doesn’t matter what league you are in, what ground you are playing at, or who is representing the team, it is the fans that create the clubs existence.

    It seems more likely that the fans who argue they are being punished when a club goes to the wall, or that they are being priced out of the game, need only to stop chasing the dream themselves and leave the club behind. As AFC Wimbledon, Exeter, FC United of Manchester, Scarborough and many others have shown, the club does not cease to exist if the fans keep it alive.

    We have had many clubs come and go, teams from around the world who have won titles in top divisions’ such as Pro Vercelli in Italy, Third Lanark in Scotland amongst others. These clubs return and still have the option of being supported. If you really dislike the way your club is being run then you must walk away and wait. If that means they go the wall or are relegated so be it, if you really care you cannot condone the actions of the people who seek to extract large wealth from a club and then complain when it all falls apart.

  • Comment number 36.

    Fedupwithgovt

    I watched Liverpool as a season ticket holder for 25 years, 79-04, good and bad, home and away.

    I walked away when the numbers on the backs of the shirts began to resemble the pay packets of those wearing them. If fans walked away from the game, the game would have to clean itself up just as in any other business but fans have this blind loyalty even when having the mickey taken out of them so Football wont mend its ways through the fans. It may though think seriously if HMRC begins to play tough ball and clubs do go to the wall, yes its a shame for those backroom staff and fans but football clubs should not be sancresanct which is the feeling you have had over the alst few years.

    Football has to clean its act up, this may be an unintended way of getting the ball rolling.

    I also note that HMRC are looking at players image rights, maybe HMRC could be the saviour of the game, maybe we may in a few years be able to talk about football the sport which at the moment it certainly isnt.

  • Comment number 37.

    Portsmouth best not die. I've got my hotel booked and everything planned for when we go there next month.

  • Comment number 38.

    Lots of good points here and an issue not just for Pompey fans but those of many other clubs and not just in the UK.
    So many of the problems besetting football could be resolved by the football powers, the PL, the FA and FIFA working in unison. They all have to be singing from the same song sheet (ha ha) and ok it would have to be a long term project but within say 5 – 10 years just maybe we could see football clubs being run on sensible business grounds and the league competitions themselves being more exciting.
    We all know that far too much money is simply sucked out of the game by the players many of whom earn far more in a week than most people earn in a year. With all due respect to the great majority of players would many of them forsake football on the grounds that they could be more gainfully employed in some other field? So wage caps it is but let’s do it actuarially based say on an ‘average’ wage (not football based but then how I appreciate is the question) with that wage loaded after some calculations are done to reflect the shorter working life, risk of injury etc. Maybe you then have some loadings/discount for the level you play at and again maybe some form of ‘success’ bonus based on the end league position. It wouldn’t be that hard to do it, the players would earn some good yet realistic rather than fantasy money from the fans perspective but you get rid of a situation where the clubs are simply being bled dry until the whole house of cards starts to collapse. Would the players quit – of course not if Europe wide because where else could they go?
    Go back some years and clubs used to share the gate money for league games so being small was not quite the ‘punishment’ in financial terms as it is today so let’s go back to it. Ok they’ll be howls of protest from some of the big clubs but in reality they must surely see that some sort of evening up of the ludicrous financial imbalance that exists at the moment would create a more competitive league and a more exciting competition or are they so wedded to win at any costs even though it’s a bit meaningless really – the Scottish Prem is a good example with one of the same two teams every year winning top spot. Other leagues around Europe are little different. I seriously don’t see that the majority of fans see it that way and they’d much rather have a tighter more respected third or fourth place finish rather than just thinking we’ve finished bottom of the same old top four!!
    These problems in the long term can be solved, it’s the powers that be having the guts to do it that’s the issue.

  • Comment number 39.

    When Sky took over Football a all those years ago, us fans were told that the increase in revenue would help lower ticket prices and improve stadia. The fans would benefit from this new found wealth, but no greedy agents and players were paid silly money by the stupid clubs, and us fans found ticket prices going up and up to the point that some fans could not afford to go matches.Now the clubs are starting to suffer for over spending on one of the things that is killing the game the wages.

  • Comment number 40.

    The fact is that Portsmouth have essentially survived in the Premier League over the last few seasons on money they didn't have and had no means of getting (they weren't going to realistically attain regular Champions League football).

    This means that there are clubs in the Championship who should rightfully be in the Premier League had Pompey not brought there Premier League status on credit like they have. Its unfair on other clubs that do manage their finances well and are held back by clubs like Pompey. I have sympathy for the fans but a club has to go under for a deterrent to be set.

  • Comment number 41.

    To be honest I can't believe what the owners (all of them) are doing to the Club. The seem to have decided that if the Club can't stay in the PL it may as well get liquidated. If they loose this court case they will cease to exhist, how is that better than life in the Championship? At least if they go down not only do the club survive, but they can put their finances in order and the owners have a chance of getting their money back. Playing Dare with the taxmen will benifit no-body.

    On a related note I can't believe no media website has published what will happen if Portsmouth get liquidated / wound up. I had to download a 166 page PDF from the PL site to find out! All fixtures played this season would be Expunged from the league table with only 2 teams being relagated, meaning any team who has dropped points against them will actually gain points relative to the rest of the league. This could actually have a massive impact on the race for the CL/Europa spots and relagtion (with West ham being big loosers and Liverpool winners)
    An article explaining all this with accompaning league tables by the BBC wouldn't go amis.

  • Comment number 42.

    As regards the situation that portsmouth fans find themselves in,it seems that administration is the surest way of saving their club.
    Ok , points are lost,and so do a lot of local buisinesses,but you keep your club in existance.Relegation is most likely.But the one good point of playing outside of the so called promised land, is that at least you see your team play at reasonable times, ie saturday afternoon and not at the ridiculose times that tv dictates.
    Personnally i would think twice about having another season ticket if my team were to be promoted to the premiership. just a thought. goodluck!

  • Comment number 43.

    Oh come on BognerRock,and whilst not defending the ludicrous mess Pompey have got themselves into chasing a dream, where does Man Utd with twelve times more dept than Pompey fit into your suggestion or is it ok for them to be £750 million in the red because of who they are!!

  • Comment number 44.

    Portsmouth football club in its current form is dead. It is only a matter of time. There is simply no way that they can sustain the levels of debt that they have and it is highly unlikely that anyone will come in and invest the colossal sums required to save the club.

    Why would they?

    The clubs is bound to be in the Championship next season. The squad can only be added to by players out of contract - either those deemed no longer good enough or whose wage demands do not match their abilities.

    It is a tiny ground with limited commercial revenue streams.

    The surrounding land is owned by various people looking to make money on the potential redevelopment of Fratton Park.

    The amount owed to various owners, past and present, would make it utterly unattractive to a prospective purchaser. It beggars belief that businessmen astute enough to have made millions are foolish enough to then lend that money to the moribund Portsmouth.

    As Gerald Krasner said, the club would be infinitely better off taking the hit and going into administration now, it would effectively relegate them with a nine point deduction. But, let's face it. They are almost down now.

    Better take the hit now rather than take a ten point penalty in the Championship and risk going down again.

    Portsmouth have been down before and there is no reason why they could not get back to the Premier League again at some point in the future.

    You can understand that those owed money will do all they can to avoid administration as that would effectively mean they would lose their loans and investments. But, by playing the game that they are at the moment, they risk liquidation and utter oblivion for the club.

    The fear is that those owed the money care far more for the money than they club and would see that happen rather than ensure a future for Portsmouth.

  • Comment number 45.

    I am sorry for Protsmouth's fans, genuinely sorry, but it's time English football got the rude awakening it's been overdue. English clubs and fans have sneered at the under-performance of German clubs in recent years in European competition. Want to know why? Because the financial rules are tighter there and clubs are not permitted to run themselves in the monumentally irresponsible manner that their English and Spanish competitors have. English football throws money at grossly overpaid players and the returns are minimal. Only one team can win the league each year and only 4 (for now) qualify for the Champions League. Clubs like Pompey have no chance of doing so yet they spend like crazy because the big four (or seven or whatever) are spending like crazy - and even they are outspending their capacity to earn. It can only end badly, as it did for my club, Leeds. It shocks me that no-one appeasr to have learned any lessons from what happened to us.

    As for Cardiff, run by ... wait a minute, isn't that Peter Ridsdale?

    Enough said...

  • Comment number 46.

    While I am hesitant to do more than lurk on this board, given I live "across the pond," I must admit I am surprised that you don't have stricter regulations regarding the sale/purchase of football clubs, particularly at the highest level. When my beloved Minnesota Vikings (NFL) were up for sale, we had a group interested in purchasing that included author Tom Clancy. NFL rules, however, require that all club sales be approved by a majority vote of the league member clubs, and only after detailed financial disclosure showing the prospective owners can truly support the club and have sufficient resources. The group was told they would not be approved, and the team was eventually sold to another, more financially stable owner. We are now one of the top teams in the league.

    Does UK law prohibit the Premier League and Football League exercising more say, BEFORE the sale, as to who can buy a club? Is there any room in your system for requiring potential owners to demonstrate their financial ability to be responsible owners before the sale actually takes place?

  • Comment number 47.

    May be the time has come for a club to get thier rewards for not handling thier club in a proper way.I think Mr storry thinks he is on fantasy islands with some of his comments he has made to the media.
    If I am not mistaken a great jockey called LESTER PIGGOT was jailed for non payment of tax to the goverment.What is the difference here.

  • Comment number 48.


    Portsmouth situation is fairly obvious. The owner did not have the money he claimed to have. So the FA/Premiership is partly responsible. They obviously never checked out his finances
    Cardiff - Peter Risdale no need to say more.
    Southend United has for at least 3 or 4 years spent money they did not have.
    This is so unfair on all the other teams in the football league and the Premiership. They used not paying debt to finance players.
    While we can feel sorry for the fans - there is not defense for any of the owners.

  • Comment number 49.

    sbknudson wrote:

    Does UK law prohibit the Premier League and Football League exercising more say, BEFORE the sale, as to who can buy a club? Is there any room in your system for requiring potential owners to demonstrate their financial ability to be responsible owners before the sale actually takes place?
    ----------------------------------------

    All prospective owner are subject to a fit and proper person test. The list of critriea can be found in the link below:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/6923831.stm

    In practice, if you can prove you do not have a criminal conviction or are bankrupt or run another club then you are free to buy any club you want. Oh and it helps if you say you are a billionaire! Banks tend to lend you more money! ;)

  • Comment number 50.

    Whitewolf9 you are right. Clubs and the PL should have learnt from Leeds. Will they learn from Pompey? I doubt it.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    I was fortunate enough to be at Wembley that day, less than two years ago, when we beat Cardiff to win the cup. My, wasn't that a slightly different venue than the one we shared this week......

    I'd say it's ironic - but a better word is "shocking".

    I hope other clubs have started learning from our mistakes, and that these episodes aren't the tip of the iceberg. Otherwise I fear for the future of the British game.

    In the meantime, I have everything crossed. I'd think most seasoned Blues fans would gladly take admin now if it means we survive.

    And in any case, at least we've bought enough time for one last hoorah at St Mary's on Saturday. ;-)

    PUP

  • Comment number 53.

    Sadly many more football supporters are now waking up to the reality of administration and the attitude of HMRC. My dad is a Pompey fan and I am a Leeds fan... not the most liked club in the country and unfortunately their demise was met with some vitriolic comments, but as one of many Leeds fans outside of Yorkshire, this just hid the reality of the situation. And by the way, I'm not advocating that clubs are entitled to spend above their means. But love him or hate him, the issues now coming home to roost are the very point Ken Bates was making when most League One clubs voted against Leeds 2-3 years ago. They may have been right but they weren't doing it for the right reasons.
    What has the Football League, the Premier League and the FA done to address the inevitable wrath of HMRC since this time? It was obvious at that time, HMRC were fuming about them not being #1 on the creditors list.
    As usual the fans of all clubs - Pompey, Southend, Cardiff - suffer, whilst the owners seem to get away with it. What did Gaydamak do ? And, excuse my ignorance, but how come he's owed a lot of money ? Why is Peter Ridsdale allowed to move to Cardiff ? David O'Leary seems to have taken the can, as have the Leeds fans. Only now are we recovering. Sadly, I suspect with some of these more recent cases it may not be the same outcome (assuming Leeds can break out of League 1 this year, which before I get blasted, I am not assuming, just hopeful).
    And who's to say it won't be Liverpool next .. if they don't make Champions League qualification. And what happens next year ? I can't see them having paid off a significant amount of debt, Man City are a year stronger..... will Liverpool be in the same place next year ? If it's not Liverpool, what about Man U. Alex Ferguson retires ..... could be an interesting and surprising few years for many clubs .....

  • Comment number 54.

    Afternoon all, thanks for reading/commenting and sorry it has taken me so long to pop back in and contribute to the debate. Was off doing a different story all day yesterday and this is the first chance I've had today. Right, excuses out of the way, let me bash through some replies.

    MrBlueBurns (1) - You're right, as far as this winding-up petition is concerned PCFC Ltd is just another business and trust me Derrett wound up at least a hundred of them on Wednesday and another hundred were given last warnings. So from a purely business point of view the people who are responsible for this mess are your owners and directors over the last few years. I don't have the numbers in front of me but Pompey's accounts for last five or six years are very revealing (they're late with their accounts for 2008/09). Under Mandaric the wage bill was about £25m and didn't really change for 3 years. Revenues didn't change much either, though, but he still managed to produce small operating profits (before tax and interest). Then Gaydamak comes along. The wage bill more than doubles in two years but the revenue does not. It goes up, particularly in your FA Cup year, but it cannot keep up with your outgoings (which include net transfer spends). For the first two seasons under Gaydamak the operating loss is £40m. That's the hole that the bank loans filled and that's where it all started to go wrong. Gaydamak, like Mandaric, the Gregorys et al, failed to change the equation by improving matchday revenues. Average attendance is either 19th in PL and there is very little 'premium ticket' revenue (Arsenal make 35% of their matchday revenue from 9,000 exec seats....MU have 8,000 exec seats). So as businessmen, Gaydamak and Storrie were miserable failures for you. Which must be particularly galling in Storrie's case as recent figures show he was the 3rd best paid chief exec in league (behind Kenyon and Gill) and Gaydamak is supposed to be a property developer. The recent lot appear equally clueless.

    Pete (2) - How true. HMRC was ruthless with Kings Lynn but I fear most pro clubs ignored that case, arrogantly thinking they were too big to fail. I wrote about that a few weeks ago http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/mattslater/2010/01/taxing_times_for_footballs_fri.html but it is worth repeating that clubs can and do fail. OK, they have been further down the pyramid so far but the problem is essentially the same: basic insolvency after a period of living beyond their means.

    McDonny (3) - You're right, the rest of football is watching Pompey very nervously. I would imagine Pompey fans would love the Notts Co situation to be repeated for them, although I wonder if Chainrai and co would be so willing to give up the club for a £1. My guess is yes, given the hole they're in. But there are a few big differences between the two situations. Yes, Notts Co were in trouble with the taxman but their overall level of debt wasn't that bad. They're also doing OK on the field and they own a stadium that is perfectly adequate for their current station and immediate ambitions. That said, I thought it was very revealing that the new guy came in and immediately said the party was over/I'm not throwing money at this. Pompey's position is a little different because of the size of their debts and their complexity, the pressing need to upgrade the stadium (not to mention the training facilities and youth set-up) and their dire league position. If I was interested in buying the club, I'd hold on.

    JMcK (4) - Couldn't agree more. Some kind of regulated wage restraint is needed and it can no longer be left to market forces. Salary caps, luxury taxes, wage/turnover caps...whatever. We can debate which one works best for football but let's get that debate started now.

    Chocolateboxkid (5) - Sounds like we agree!

    Wolfe71 (6) - You make an interesting point and it's one I've debated with people from the supporters trust movement. They've been predicting doom and pleading for restraint for some time but have found themselves marginalised as kill-joy bores by most football fans who just want the classy midfielder/foreign striker/top manager that is going to give them success - damn the consequences and who cares about sustainability, let's live the dream!!! The supporters trust crowd's arguments were too easy to ignore during the boom years because clubs weren't failing. Or they were failing but then finding some other sugar daddy to pick up the pieces. Well it appears the sugar daddy production line has broken down. Either that or we've just woken up to the fact that most of them weren't that sweet anyway. Which brings me back to your point. Does football need a sacrificial lamb? Any volunteers?!!?

    Fedupwithgovt (7) - Yep, there's something not quite right with English football at the moment, is there? Yes, the TV deals are great, the stadia better, quality of play good (although it's dipped this year, imho, and has always been of variable standard) and it's great that the world likes our league so much. But what about the rising cost of attending games (average age at PL games is shocking), the growing gap between fan and player, lack of genuine competition (and yes I know this year is better than most but it's hardly a lottery, is it?), continued shabby behaviour and very real examples of mismanagement, greed and corruption? Top-flight football has become an arms race and they rarely end that well.

    Neil Desperandum (9) - Good name, by the way, and I agree. Take the CVA route now. Yes, PFC will go down but it will go down with some dignity and hope for the future. It should also flush out the old regimes and give the club a realistic chance of stabilising in the Championship. Yes, some innocent people would lose some money, but they are at risk of losing all of it. I would also like to see a new regime at Pompey take charge with genuine fans' involvement/input. Organic growth should be the aspiration ie a new stadium (the city council could help here) and a decent youth structure. No more short-termism.

    Aidan (10) - Thanks and I'm with you on the competition angle to all this. Living beyond your means is a form of cheating. Financial doping is what Wenger et al have called it, and Owen Coyle made the same point earlier this season when asked if he had sympathy for a Pompey who were paying players wages his club (sensibly and fairly) refused to pay. I know the points-penalty punishment is controversial (the Luton case springs to mind) but in most cases I think it's entirely fair, certainly until we think of something better. We also need to rethink the football creditors rule. What was once a reasonable measure to combat the kind of cheating I've just referred to, is now a legal anomaly that provides a safeguard for the already rich. Nobody wants a business to fail but when it does all concerned should share the pain equally. Allowing wealthy footballers (and they are all relatively wealthy now) and their agents to walk away paid up while small businesses, the public purse and charities get pennies is totally indefensible.

    Right, that's enough from me. Thanks again for reading. As a final thought, I do genuinely with Pompey well this weekend against Southampton. The links between those clubs are well known but could become even closer if Pompey fail to sort themselves out. My concern would be that as gloomy as things got for Saints fans they could at least point to a new ground and a decent academy.

  • Comment number 55.

    Seems to me that football clubs paying over the odds in a gamble over potential future successes, only for it to blow up in their faces, is becoming too prevalent nowadays. Just makes me wonder how such mismanagement has been tolerated for so long.

    In any other line of work, a person shows that they're incompetent then they're swiftly removed - it amazes me that Peter Ridsdale (and others, admittedly) made a mess of Leeds, yet he's then allowed to take over at Cardiff!

    Although I'm a Burnley fan and the upset at Pompey gives us a fighting chance of staying in the EPL, I still feel for their fans and indeed for the fans of any clubs involved in a situation like this, none of them deserve it.

    The Burnley board has had me tearing my hair out in frustration in the past for their failure to invest in players, but at least I know they have the best interests of the club at heart. Maybe we should equally focus on clubs that are being run in the correct manner.

  • Comment number 56.

    Wheather you like them or not.No one should feel smug.Whats happened to Portsmouth fc,could happen to most other clubs.If your'e a fan of the game first,you must realise what's happening.A product that is in the main, over priced,overhyped,and in danger of consuming itself. If its any consolation to pompey fans,it must be the realisation that a heck of a lot of non pompey fans at least show their sympathy with fellow supporters.we support the club we follow. I personally admire the stance taken by the suporters in the setting up of fc united and fc wimbledon. A parrodox to my last sentence, maybe.Best league in the world ? If so,at what price ?

  • Comment number 57.

    One thing we should all remember, the money owed to HMRC is tax money, owed to the UK taxpayers at the end of the day. I'm sure that £10 million, or however much is owed by Portsmouth and other clubs, could be put to good use by the NHS or other parts of the government (although there is no saying that it will be well spent, I work for the government so know how badly tax money can be spent).

 

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