Sport Soccer

Tuesday 16 January 2018

FIFA allow Pompey to offload players in survival bid

Sam Wallace and Nick Harris

Fifa last night gave permission to Portsmouth to take the unprecedented step of selling off their players immediately, outside the regulation transfer window, in order to save the club from extinction.

The club made the application yesterday which was handed by the Football Association to Fifa, world football's governing body, which has ultimate control over the rules governing transfer regulations.

The Premier League and the FA are expected to meet today to discuss how they will implement the controversial new measures, which are fraught with problems.

Chief amongst the issues up for discussion today are how Portsmouth will get around the problem of some of their most saleable assets -- Tommy Smith, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Michael Brown -- having played for two clubs already this season which prevents them from playing for another until next season.

The lengths which Fifa and the Premier League have been prepared to go to bend the rules for Portsmouth indicate just how dire the situation has become for the club.

A source close to the talks said last night that it was not an attempt by Portsmouth to avoid administration -- and the nine-point deduction that goes with it -- but to prevent the club being liquidated.

"This is being done to avoid Portsmouth being wound up altogether," said the source. "They now accept that there is no way out of administration. They have been scared by the High Court experience (where Portsmouth have been subject of a winding-up order by HM Revenue and Customs over a £12m unpaid tax bill) and they want to raise as much money as possible and not have to take the risk in court that they could be put out of business."

There is still a chance that an administrator for Portsmouth will decide there is no hope for the club and recommend a winding-up order. It now seems inevitable that as well as selling their best players this month, Portsmouth -- with debts in excess of £60m -- will also face the nine-point deduction that virtually assures them of relegation.

The reaction last night from Premier League clubs in the relegation battle was that Portsmouth should not be afforded the special measures simply to stop them receiving the nine-point deduction.

Certain clubs are understood to have lobbied hard that Portsmouth should not go into liquidation because it would mean the expunging of their league results.

Bolton, West Ham and Blackburn, for example, have both beaten Portsmouth this season and stand to lose valuable points if the club is wound up. The Hull City chairman, Adam Pearson said that if Portsmouth players were permitted to leave on transfers this month then they should not be allowed to join other Premier League clubs.

"A lot of our supporters will be asking questions if somebody goes from Portsmouth to the likes of Wigan and scores a goal against us," Pearson said.

The new West Ham United co-owner David Gold said that if the measure is proven to be the club's "last resort" then it is a matter "that should be considered, and voted on", by the Premier League clubs.

Gold said: "I don't have sympathy for a badly run club that faces administration. We're in a league that operates on survival of the fittest." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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