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Page last updated at 19:23 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Portsmouth threaten arbitration with Premier League

Portsmouth have endured a torrid season on and off the pitch
Cash-strapped Portsmouth are bottom of the Premier League

Portsmouth will seek arbitration with the Premier League unless their 96-day transfer ban is overturned.

The club are also looking to secure £2m of TV money that has been taken from them to pay their debts to other clubs.

The club had previously threatened to sue the Premier League but that course of action has now been dropped.

The club's executive director Mark Jacob accused the Premier League of treating Portsmouth as "poor relations and the black sheep of the family".

The Premier League banned the club from operating in the transfer market and has redistributed the club's £7m share of TV income to Pompey's creditors.

"The Premier League are withholding the balance of monies they owe us because they believe that we still owe other football clubs money," added Jacob.

"We have now paid off the three UK clubs. We have agreed with Rennes and Lens to accept certain payments now, and then defer a schedule of payments going forward. We are finalising the agreement with Udinese.

"The total amount that we directed the Premier League to discharge and pay these clubs is approximately £5m. So there is a net balance due to the club approaching £2m. We cannot see how they can keep the money and also continue with the embargo.

It would be rank bad management if a Premier League club were to go into administration

Richard Scudamore

"We believe the embargo should be lifted immediately and that we should be receiving money from the Premier League.

"Today we have delivered a letter to the Premier League asking to pay back the money. We have called for a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and if this fails or we don't get our money back then we shall exercise the powers of arbitration.

"Once again we are being treated as the poor relations and the black sheep of the family.

"We feel we have come in and been fully open and frank with them to explain the club's position, where we are and how we'd like to go forward.

"We would like them to use their discretionary powers in a positive fashion rather than negative fashion against the club."

Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie told the Sunday Mirror he believed the club had a "good case" for suing but league chief Richard Scudamore told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek the club would effectively be suing themselves.

"The whole notion of suing the Premier League is interesting because you're suing yourself as a club, and the other 19 clubs," said the chief executive of the world's richest football league.

Scudamore added that the embargo would remain until it was "absolutely nailed down, absolutely clear, absolutely concise" that there were no outstanding liabilities.

He also stated that that outstanding money would be released once Portsmouth could provide "watertight" contracts to prove that debts had been settled.

David James
Portsmouth say they do not have to sell their top players in January

Portsmouth were thought to have owed about £10m to clubs in the Premier League and abroad.

The Premier League's decision to use the £7m TV money means the club may still owe £3m in outstanding transfer fees and have £60m in debts overall.

They also facing a winding up order from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), where the verdict was due on Monday, but the judge ruling has delayed this now until 1030 GMT on Tuesday.

Portsmouth's staff and players have been hit by the club's financial problems with salaries failing to be paid on time in recent months.

Keith Harris, chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, told Sportsweek that if a Premier League club were ever to go into administration, this would "probably" be the season.

But Scudamore believed any top-flight club which went out of business would be guilty of "rank bad management".

He also denied that the Premier League could have done something sooner to avert the financial crisis at the south coast club and put the blame firmly on the club's owners.

"We can only go by our rule book. I don't think anyone wants the Premier League running football clubs, it's very much for the owners to run the football clubs," said Scudamore.

"The owners run the club and in fairness to the people running that club they are working extremely hard to live the dream and they are scrabbling hard to make sure this club stays alive.

"You can't say it's impossible to imagine a Premier League club going out of business when it is still in the Premier League but the reality is, given the amount of central income that is generated, it would be rank bad management if a Premier League club were to go into administration.


"Infrastructure-wise Portsmouth are in a difficult position but the clubs have assets - the players - so they have choices.

"They might not want to sell them because of their own aspirations but in the harshest scenario that's the circle of life of a football club."

Scudamore said debts were not necessarily a bad thing, but added that he agreed "in principle" with talk of Uefa plans to introduce a "Financial Fair Play" criteria for European club competitions.

Under the rules which would govern the amount of debt clubs could accrue, Liverpool and Manchester United would be banned from the Champions League.

"What we have issue with is benefactor funding or borrowings because we feel that is part of the mix.

"If you end up with a situation where clubs are only allowed to spend what one might call their revenues and if nobody's allowed to have any debt or benefactor funding, you end up with a situation where those with the biggest revenues end up at the top."

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see also
Pompey 'working hard' to pay debt
15 Jan 10 |  Portsmouth
Stoke hopeful over deal for James
24 Jan 10 |  Stoke
Portsmouth 'have no need to sell'
07 Jan 10 |  Portsmouth
Pompey 'keen for O'Hara to stay'
03 Dec 09 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth wrap up four signings
28 Aug 09 |  Portsmouth
O'Hara signs new Tottenham deal
28 Aug 09 |  Tottenham

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