This week's collapse of Portsmouth's plans to set up a new ownership structure under Balram Chainrai's Portpin company has seen Portsmouth Supporters Trust emerge as the club's only possible saviour from liquidation. The sudden change in focus overlooked the fact that administrator Trevor Birch had set an August 10th deadline for Pompey to have a firm exit plan to come out of administration - which was in itself an extension on the original deadline which has been set when their CVA was agreed.
Birch has now told BBC Radio Solent that he wants the Supporters Trust to finalise their bid to buy the club by next Friday, although even then there seems to only be a 'hope' that this will happen by that date:
"I would hope by the end of next week the Trust will say to me we are ready to go. They will need to go back to the Football League with a business plan that is acceptable. The compromise agreements also need to be revisited and we need to look at the Trust plan and see what can now be paid to the Football Creditors."
There are a number of ever-complex obstacles that the Supporters Trust need to overcome if they are to get as far as owning the club. Birch's mention of 'compromise agreements' being revisited concerns the fact that under the Portpin offer, the club's Football Creditors had been given agreements that would commit Portsmouth to paying out in the region of £8-9 million over the next four years. However, the Portsmouth News indicates that the Trust are only prepared to offer around £2 million, meaning that Birch may have to call back the eight players who have left the club in return for severance agreements.
There is also another problem in that Portsmouth City Council's £1.45 million loan to the Trust was intended to be guaranteed from Premier League parachute payments. The Premier League has said that they are not prepared to do this, and say that it is the responsibility of Birch or the new owners to commit to this. However, there is a suggestion that the parachute payments were due to be used to pay off their former players, providing a risk that such monies have been double-counted.
The Supporters Trust's other problem is that Fratton Park is currently owned by Chainrai's Portpin company, rather than by Portsmouth Football Club itself, with the assets having been split from the club in recent years. The Trust have offered £2.75 million to Chainrai to give up his rights to the ground and return it to club ownership.
Yesterday's news that the Football League had given Pompey permission to start the season on zero points might have been viewed as them having got over their financial problems. Yesterday, they confirmed the signing of Kieran Djilali, Mustapha Dumbuya, Jon Harley, Brian Howard, Izale McLeod, Lee Williamson and Simon Eastwood on one month contracts, and will add Jack Compton, Luke Rodgers and Liam Walker, subject to international clearance, with more loans such as former Glovers loan midfielder Connor Clifford still to come. However, it would seem that the next seven days will be just as turbulent and unpredictable as they struggle to avoid liquidation.
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