Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Portsmouth to be shut down next month if players refuse to give up huge salaries


Sean Taylor

PORTSMOUTH’S administrators say the club is in a "critical" condition and will be liquidated next month unless the remaining senior first-team players agree to transfers or sign wage-compromise deals.

The League One side have been set a deadline of August 10 by the administrators to have their finances in order or face going out of business.

Bryan Jackson, corporate recovery partner with accountants PKF and joint administrator of Portsmouth, said: "The situation at Portsmouth FC is now critical.

"If the remaining high-cost players do not compromise on their wages or agree to move then we won't be able to complete the sale of the club and it will close down. It is as simple as that.

"Whilst we sympathise with the players and acknowledge that they are not to blame for the club's predicament, they do have the power to keep the club going.

"What is certain is that if the club does go into liquidation they are unlikely to receive anything at all. If, however, they agree to leave or conclude compromise settlements then the club has a future."

Supporters group SOS Pompey handed over an open letter to the players at the club's training ground earlier this week in a bid to persuade them to compromise on their wages and the administrators have warned that former owner Balram Chainrai could pull out of a proposed deal to buy the club if more players are not moved on.

Eight senior players are understood to be in disagreement over unpaid salaries, although Luke Varney has since joined Leeds.

Mr Jackson continued: "This is not just an issue for Portsmouth FC but is an issue for all of football.

"Perhaps what we need at the moment is some sense of reality that players cannot continue to receive enormous wages if there is no money to pay them. The wages to revenue ratio is a key performance indicator in football clubs and it is essential that clubs recover a sense of financial stability.

"We will continue to do all we can to facilitate these player deals but the club's future hinges on the willingness of certain players and their agents to sign up to compromise agreements that are affordable both in terms of amount and timing of repayments.

"Unless we make significant progress on this front by August 10 then we are likely to have no option other than to close the club.

"We are making good progress with three or four players but despite many conversations and offers over the past few weeks, some players and agents still don't understand what's at stake here.

"If the club is liquidated, players will not be protected by the Football Creditor provisions. They will become ordinary unsecured creditors in a situation where there is unlikely to be any dividend."

Former Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp had a similar message for the players earlier today.

Defender Tal Ben Haim and striker Kanu are among the players owed significant wages, with both players reportedly claiming around £3 million in unpaid salary.

Redknapp, who spent five seasons at Fratton Park between 2002 and 2008, guiding the club to a momentous FA Cup win in 2008, said this morning he would try to help save his old club from being shut down.

The ex-Pompey boss revealed he plans to speak to Kanu to see if he can persuade the former striker to compromise with the club, and he urged Ben Haim to do the same.

"I will be ringing Kanu today to see if there is anything I can do," Redknapp said.

"In the case of Tal Ben Haim, if players have a contract and are owed money, you can see why they think they should get it. But if the club closes down they won't get a penny. They need to think hard about that."

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