Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Portsmouth FC's 'shock' at HMRC wind-up petition

Portsmouth fans at the FA Cup final in 2008
Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008

Portsmouth Football Club has said it is "shocked and surprised" by the winding-up petition by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) against the club.

HMRC applied for the petition on 23 December, but a full court hearing will not take place until February.

If the club is unable to strengthen its financial position by then, it could go into administration.

Portsmouth said it disputed the amount of money owed and expected HMRC "to withdraw their demands forthwith".

If it does not, the club said it anticipates "a hearing being held in early January 2010 during which we will request that the High Court order HMRC to withdraw their demands."

It added the VAT, PAYE and National Insurance contributions owed to HMRC had been paid, were about to paid, or were being disputed.

The Premier League said it was monitoring the situation at Portsmouth closely and hoped the situation could be resolved without the two parties going to court.

Transfer ban

The club currently lies bottom of the Premier League and has recently appointed ex-Chelsea manager Avram Grant to try to revive its fortunes on the pitch.

Portsmouth has been the subject of takeover bids and speculation since the summer.

Dubai businessman Suleiman al-Fahim bought the club in August, having initially agreed a deal in May.

But after questions were raised about Mr al-Fahim's finances, he then sold on a 90% stake in the club to Saudi property tycoon Ali al-Faraj.

Despite promises of significant investment from its new owner, the club remains in financial difficulties.

It has even been banned from buying any new players until it pays off debts owed to other English clubs.

Under manager Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008. However, since Mr Redknapp left for Tottenham Hotspur, the club's fortunes have been in decline.

It has sold many of its cup-winning team, some of which have moved to Spurs to rejoin Mr Redknapp.

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