A good day for Pompey fans
To the disappointment of Southampton fans, Treasury officials and rival insolvency firms hoping to get the liquidation gig, cash-strapped Portsmouth have taken a big step towards financial stability.
Nothing to do with Pompey is straightforward, so there are still obstacles to navigate, but the club can at least now start to think about a life out of administration and in the Championship.
The reason for this improved outlook is simple: the club's creditors have voted in favour of the company voluntary agreement (CVA) Pompey need to draw a line under last season's chaos, avoid further sanctions from the Football League and tempt prospective buyers to the negotiating table.
Given the fact that the CVA is a five-year commitment to run the club on a shoestring basis, you could be forgiven for wondering why Thursday's vote is such good news for Pompey fans. The answer is simple: the alternative was liquidation and a last-minute scramble for a place in the Hampshire Premier Football League.
It was an alternative that was looking increasingly likely in recent weeks as opposition to administrator Andrew Andronikou's CVA proposal appeared to be growing. Leading this opposition was Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) - so just you, me and every other taxpayer in this country.
But voting in these cases is not done on a one-man-one-vote basis. A CVA ballot is based on how much you are owed. If you hold 25% of the debt, you get 25% of the votes, and anything north of 25% is significant as a CVA must be supported by 75% of the creditor base.
Simple, right? Erm...yes, but only if you can agree who is owed what.
Four months later and the overall debt, and HMRC's share of it, have doubled. One has been keeping pace with the other but it was not clear who was winning. Until now, that is.
HMRC was left fuming on Thursday after Andronikou granted it voting rights for only £24m of the £37m it is claiming from the club. This dropped its share of the votes from over 25% to 18.3% (the overall voting pool was £131m).
Andronikou said he did this because the additional £13m comes from a disputed claim for incorrectly-taxed image-rights payments, a huge bone of contention between football and the taxman at present and one I am sure we will hear a lot more about.
Andronikou, however, made it clear HMRC would need to prove it is owed the bigger amount in a court of law before he could give it the commensurate voting power and unfortunately the vote was today. So tough.
Portsmouth administrator Andrew Andronikou could still face an appeal from HMRC over the CVA vote
To be fair to the administrator, he might be right but HMRC appears unconvinced and may still demand its day in court.
The taxman has 28 days to appeal the CVA vote, which ended up being passed by a majority of 81.3% (only HMRC, agent Steve Kutner and former manager Paul Hart said "nay"), and could do so, if only to underline its disgust at what has transpired at Portsmouth and reinforce its bid to have the controversial "football creditors" rule struck off.
If you are not familiar with this particular law of the game, it is the one that says footballers and other football clubs must be paid first, and in full, when clubs go bust. The Treasury, local suppliers and even charities must make do with what is left over.
Trying to read HMRC's intentions is a bit like keeping goal in the Jabulani era - very difficult to get a handle on - but there were some clues in its post-vote press statement.
"HMRC stands by the full amount of its claim," it said. "We will now carefully consider our position following the decision to reduce the amount of our claim for voting purposes."
And then, just in case we had not picked up its unhappiness, it continued: "HMRC believes the so-called 'football creditors rule' is unfair, unlawful and unacceptable.
"It cannot be right for millions of pounds' worth of Portsmouth's assets and income to be earmarked for payment of football debts in full, while other creditors - including the public purse - have been offered a mere 20p in the pound."
See you in court, then.
Given that comment about 20p in the pound being insufficient, it is interesting there was no discussion on Thursday of the rival CVA proposal which emerged earlier this month.
That deal, drawn up by the insolvency firm Griffins, promised creditors a minimum payout of 65p in the pound, and possibly as much as 99p if former owners the Gaydamaks could be persuaded to drop their £32m claim.
That was never likely, though, and it seems other creditors thought the plan was a bit of a publicity stunt.
I am no expert but that 65p figure does seem very ambitious for a club without huge revenue streams beyond the Premier League's generous parachute payments.
I think Andronikou and current owner Balram Chainrai will weather HMRC's opposition to their plans and get their CVA through. Once that is done the club can emerge from administration 14 days later. A summer exit looks likely.
But that is when the next chapter in this remarkable saga will begin. Is Chainrai really such a reluctant owner? If so, how badly does he want to sell up and move on?
What will come of the promised investigation that will follow when Portsmouth's parent company is liquidated nine months into the CVA? And who will pay for this investigation if it starts to get ugly?
So today was a good day for Pompey fans but it is going to be a while yet before you can say that without immediately having to add "relatively speaking".