Court approves Portsmouth debt deal
Hopes for the survival of cash-strapped Portsmouth Football Club rose after it won a High Court battle with the tax man.
HM Revenue and Customs attempted to block a proposed Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) put together by the club's administrators to help it out of administration and settle its debts. But on Thursday the High Court ruled in favour of the administrators.
Mr Justice Mann said: "I propose to find in favour of the company administrators and dismiss the application of HMRC."
The judge said the CVA would stand and the administrators were free to find a buyer for the club.
HMRC said it was "disappointed" but would not appeal.
Portsmouth chief executive David Lampitt expressed his "delight and relief" and described the ruling as "a massive step forward in the process towards getting this great club back on its feet".
Speaking outside court, Peter Kubik, one of the joint administrators, said: "It's very good news, we're very relieved". The next step was to "get on trying to sell the club."
Hong Kong-based businessman Balram Chainrai, who put Pompey into administration in February, is reported to want to be the owner for a second time. Mr Kubik said the administrators currently had "one and one only" potential buyer. But he added: "Now that the issue of this (HMRC) challenge has gone away, there may be some more out there."
The taxman argued at a two-day hearing this week the CVA was "unfair and seriously flawed" as it gave preference to football creditors, including players, who were able to claim up to 100% of monies owed them, while other creditors, including the Revenue, would receive much less. HMRC also argued it was owed £13 million more than the £24 million value put on its claim.
The administrators disputed the accuracy of the taxman's figures and assessments, and on Thursday the judge ruled in their favour.