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Pompey keep executioner at bay as court grants week's grace

Portsmouth were kept in business yesterday following a High Court hearing and now have a week to prove they have an adequate plan to pay off their debts.

Registrar Christine Derrett gave Pompey seven days to detail their financial situation in a "statement of affairs" to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, who have lodged a winding-up petition for the Premier League's bottom club over unpaid tax.

Nigel Hood, representing Pompey in court, claimed there were two "serious" offers to buy the club, one received on the morning of the hearing and another the previous evening -- and it is hoped the extra time will allow one of the deals to be completed.

After the decision was made by Derrett, Pompey issued a statement welcoming the time granted to produce their "statement of affairs", which will be done with Vantis plc.

A hearing will then take place before a judge on the first date available after February 19.

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

After detailing payments paid and disputed, Pompey's statement read: "Therefore we contest that there is no payment due."

Despite being pleased with the outcome, Pompey were accused by HMRC of trading while insolvent and Derrett said she feared the company would continue to trade and build up more debts that would not be paid.

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.

Balram Chainrai is the current owner of the club, taking charge last week when Ali Al Faraj defaulted payments on a loan.

Chainrai, however, is not interested in owning the club in the long term and Storrie has been looking for new investors willing to take on the club's debts.