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Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Portsmouth get seven days to fight winding-up petition

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Pompey in much better position, says chief executive Peter Storrie

Portsmouth have been given a seven-day stay of execution after getting more time to fight a winding-up petition.

The club now have until 1600 GMT on 17 February to file a "statement of financial affairs" proving they can pay their creditors.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs had taken Portsmouth to court over an unpaid tax bill amounting to £7.4m.

Pompey also claimed at the hearing they have received two "serious" offers from parties interested in buying the club.

If Portsmouth file the statement of affairs, the earliest the case could return to the High Court is Friday 19 February.

PORTSMOUTH IN CRISIS
May 2009: Club accept takeover bid from Sulaiman Al Fahim
Oct 2009: Al Fahim sells 90% of his shares to Ali Al Faraj
Oct 2009: Premier League issues embargo on Portsmouth registering new players
Dec 2009: Portsmouth fail to play players for a third time
Jan 2010: Premier League confirms it will distribute TV payments directly to Portsmouth's creditors. Transfer embargo lifted
4 Feb 2010: Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai's company Portpin takes a controlling interest
9 Feb 2010: Portsmouth fail to agree a deal with HMRC to pay their outstanding tax bill
10 Feb 2010: High Court grants club seven-day stay of execution

Court registrar Christine Derrett said she feared the company would continue to trade and build up more debts that would not be paid.

"I am very concerned about the financial status of this company," she said. "It seems to me there's a very real risk that this company is undoubtedly trading while it is insolvent.

"I'm obviously conscious that, by making a winding-up order, it would have very severe consequences not only for the company as a business but for the supporters themselves, but that's not a consideration that I strictly take into account."

Gregory Mitchell QC, who represented HMRC, said: "It's quite clear, beyond any doubt at all, that this company is insolvent.

"They have failed to provide any evidence at all as to their solvency. There are many debts and they are unpaid."

However, Pompey were granted extra time to settle their tax debt after arguing they had received two serious offers to buy the club.

As well as the VAT bill Portsmouth is disputing with HMRC, it also owes £4.7m in unpaid PAYE and National Insurance which were not part of the court petition on Wednesday.

The club is working with accountancy and insolvency practitioners Vantis to produce the necessary statement of affairs by the 17 February deadline.

Sir Alan Sugar: "It's not just Portsmouth, it's all the clubs"

Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie is determined to keep the club alive, telling BBC Sport: "We put a strong case up to the court and we'll put an even stronger one up once we get all the figures together.

"We believe the club is looking in a much better position than it was a few months ago with debts being reduced massively.

"We welcome the chance to talk things through with Vantis and then put the case forward. It's still serious, but we're still here working at it and I'm sure we're going to get there."

BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar added of the process ahead: "Vantis will go through the club's accounts and say 'this is precisely what the future predictive income is.

"'This is the current level of debt and this is the cash which may be coming into the company so we can present you with an accurate reading of exactly where the club is at in order to inform your decision'.

"After seven days the copy of that report will be given to the Revenue and Customs people to look at, to make their decisions and make their comments on it.

"Then everybody is back in court as soon as possible after the 19th of February to settle this once and for all."

Last week Balram Chainrai, a Hong Kong-based businessman, became the club's fourth owner of the season.

Nigel Hood, representing the club at the hearing, said Chainrai would run the company until it was financially stable and then sell it on to someone who wanted to "operate the business as a football club".

He added that any move to force the club to wind up would have "very serious consequences".

"There would be irreparable harm caused not only to the suppliers but to the employees, 600 staff and people who have paid in advance for their season tickets, who would lose their money," said Hood.

Bottom-of-the-table Pompey have debts of £60m and are five points from safety following a 1-1 home draw against Sunderland on Tuesday.

Their financial woes have meant their players have been paid late on four occasions this season.

Portsmouth are also involved in a separate dispute with former owner Sacha Gaydamak over whether they have missed a deadline in paying a £9m chunk of the £28m they owe to him.

The Premier League recently withheld £2m of transfer payments and a £7m slice of TV revenue to divert to Chelsea and Watford for the signings of Glen Johnson and Tommy Smith respectively.

The Fratton Park club are also being sued by former defender Sol Campbell for £1.7m for unpaid image rights.



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see also
Cardiff winding-up order delayed
10 Feb 10 |  Cardiff
Southend court hearing adjourned
10 Feb 10 |  Southend
Portsmouth 1-1 Sunderland
09 Feb 10 |  Premier League
Groups 'express Pompey interest'
07 Feb 10 |  Portsmouth
Man Utd 5-0 Portsmouth
06 Feb 10 |  Premier League
Pompey site back after shutdown
28 Jan 10 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth give wages assurance
02 Feb 10 |  Portsmouth
Storrie refuses to quit at Pompey
29 Jan 10 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth transfer embargo ended
26 Jan 10 |  Portsmouth
Pompey 'working hard' to pay debt
15 Jan 10 |  Portsmouth


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