Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Pompey debts rise

Andrew Andronikou

Portsmouth's administrator has confirmed that the club's total debt has risen to £138million after a further £17million claim from the taxman.

The club should have around two-thirds of their debts written off however after a deal with creditors was thrashed out on Thursday. The creditors voted in favour of a company voluntary arrangement, a repayment deal where most will get just 20p in the pound over five years, but that should secure Portsmouth's future.

Portsmouth's administrator Andrew Andronikou confirmed that HM Revenue & Customs had put in an extra claim. He said: "The HMRC [debt] went up from £17.5million to £35million, they have had a review of possible tax outstanding from player salaries or from image rights and they have made an assessment."

Under the CVA, the big losers would be former owners Sacha Gaydamak, Sulaiman Al-Fahim and Ali Al-Faraj and the tax man, whose debts are unsecured.

Football creditors such as other clubs and current owner Balram Chainrai, who is a preferential creditor, will not lose out, and neither will charities or small creditors owed £2,500 or less.

Asked about Chainrai remaining in control, Andronikou said: "We don't know. The club is still up for sale and looking for a purchaser and have not received any firm offers, but in the last few weeks there has been interest from a variety of parties saying the most appropriate time to look is when the CVA starts."

Chainrai's £14.2million loans were secured against the club and the stadium, and now the CVA has been agreed he will be in the situation of being in control of the club with most of the debts written off, and a guarantee of £32million in parachute payments arriving in the next 14 months. That cash will help pay off the football creditors, with that sum around £17million.

Andronikou did raise doubts over whether the most prominent interested party, a consortium fronted by Cheshire-based property tycoon Rob Lloyd, would table a formal bid.

Andronikou also tried to clear up confusion over a claim made this week by the Football League Pension Fund, apparently for £50million. The fund is not run by the Football League but for non-playing employees of all the clubs, and although it has a deficit the total is less than a third of the figure quoted.

Andronikou said: "I don't think it's a real debt, I have this idea that it covers the whole Football League pension fund and not just Portsmouth. I think it was a figure put in just to make a claim on the administration, I'm sure in the fullness of time it will be insignificant."

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