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Ruling puts Chainrai back in frame to buy Pompey

Portsmouth could be back in the hands of Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai by the end of this month after winning a court case that ensures their survival.

A High Court judge yesterday dismissed a claim by HM Revenue & Customs that it was unfair for 'football creditors', such as players and other clubs, to have preferential treatment when it came to Portsmouth's debts being paid.

Mr Justice Mann also said the sale of the club to Chainrai could now go ahead. It was he who initially placed them in administration after seizing control of the club in January in order to recoup a loan.

Chainrai's representative Ashok Patel said after the case: "We are very pleased with the decision because we are the only purchaser the judge mentioned in his judgement.

"The agreement is being worked on and we hope to finalise the agreement in the next few days.

"Mr Chainrai was happy because it opens the way for the only realistic solution, which is for his company to buy the club and stabilise it, and to continue in the Championship."

HMRC said there would be no appeal against the ruling -- their barrister Gregory Mitchell QC had argued Portsmouth's company voluntary arrangement was "unfair and seriously flawed" as it gave preference to football creditors, including players, who were able to claim up to 100pc of money owed them, while other creditors, including the taxman, would receive 20pc.

HMRC also lost a claim regarding £13m tax it said was owed on image rights.

Portsmouth chief executive David Lampitt said: "It's obviously a massive step forward in the process towards getting this club back on its feet."

Portsmouth had claimed if the judge had blocked Chainrai's attempt to buy the club, they would also have been relegated from the Championship and gone into liquidation.