Grant blasts league's lack of fair play as Pompey face £11m fire sale
PORTSMOUTH have less than two weeks to achieve their aim of selling more than £11m-worth of players, with no sign of any takers for the high earners that the Premier League's bottom club are desperate to remove from their wage bill.
Club accounts project player sales of £11,750,000 for January, but also show a projected player expenditure figure of £10,998,925 -- a surprising sum at first glance for a club with Portsmouth's debts.
That figure, though, includes instalments on fees for players already at the club, most of which have been settled by the diverting of £5m from the club's TV income.
However, more instalments are due at the end of the month and if the club remain unable to bring in fees for players such as John Utaka, David Nugent and David James, it could prove a mixed blessing if the Premier League is persuaded to lift its transfer embargo.
Avram Grant, the manager, is frustrated by the continuing ban on signings. "I must tell you that I don't understand why the people at the Premier League are doing this," Grant said. "They need to think that there is a team here, there are supporters and all their life is about the team.
"There are players who give everything and even the manager is being disturbed from doing his job. I fully respect them, but I think they need to keep the spirit of the game, to give us a chance like the other teams -- and I don't think they've been doing this."
Nowhere on the club's balance sheet was there any mention of claims for unpaid bonuses by Sol Campbell, the former captain who lifted the FA Cup in 2008. Campbell, who left when his contract expired last summer, has issued a writ against Portsmouth for £1.7m in image rights and bonus payments.
Portsmouth have yet to announce whether they will appeal against a high court decision not to strike out a winding-up petition, but supporters are considering what action they might take if the club enter administration.
"We have to consider the worst," Colin Farmery, of Pompey Supporters' Trust, said. "The club is in a great deal of financial trouble and while it's not our ambition to take it over -- in fact we would rather not -- people have to have an eye on a contingency plan.
"That plan includes a worst-case scenario in which we either buy it out of administration or, at the absolute worst, to start a new team here in place of the old one. We all, fans and board members alike, want a professional team here."
Peter Storrie, the chief executive, was bailed to appear at Southwark Crown Court on April 15 on charges of cheating the public revenue at a preliminary hearing yesterday. (© The Times, London)