PFA boss Taylor says Pompey misled players over wages
By Matt Slater
Portsmouth were relegated but have reached the FA Cup final
Portsmouth's players were misled and let down by the club's former owners, according to Professional Footballers' Association boss Gordon Taylor.
Pompey paid their players late on four occasions this season as they went into administration with debts of £120m.
This happened during a campaign that has seen four different owners, a run to the FA Cup final and relegation.
"They were being misled because it was almost impossible to find out the reality of situation," said Taylor.
"The more (the PFA) inquired, the worse it got.
"There were too many people involved there - far too many chiefs and perhaps not enough Indians."
Taylor's comments come on the day the club's creditors have been invited to Fratton Park to approve the drafting of a debt-repayment plan that will enable Portsmouth to emerge from administration, perhaps as early as next month.
If approved, that plan, a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), will be drawn up by the club's joint administrators from UHY Hacker Young and distributed within five business days of Thursday's meeting.
Another meeting will then be arranged within 14-28 days to approve the CVA. This will require the backing of 75% of the club's unsecured creditors (based on amounts owed), whereas a straight majority will be enough on Thursday.
The key issue for creditors will be how much money will be returned to them as part of the CVA, with most expecting a figure between 20-25p in the pound.
Lead administrator Andrew Andronikou is not obliged to divulge details of the CVA on Thursday (as he is only asking for permission to prepare one) but it would be a surprise if he does not give an indication of the pay-out.
This money will most likely be allocated over a five-year period with the club's more than 400 "trade creditors" - local businesses, charities and other suppliers - at the back of the queue behind so-called "football creditors", who must be repaid in full under football's rules. This group includes clubs still owed over £17m in transfer fees by Portsmouth, and current and former players who are owed almost £5m in bonuses, wages and image-rights payments.
The people who did something wrong have to be punished
Pompey manager Avram Grant
Current owner Balram Chainrai will also get his outstanding £14.2m loan repaid in full but his three predecessors - Sacha Gaydamak, Sulaiman Al-Fahim and Ali Al-Faraj - will have to accept the same reduced rations on offer to the non-football, unsecured creditors.
Prominent among this group is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which is owed £17.1m in taxes and National Insurance contributions.
HMRC started winding-up proceedings against the club last December and challenged Chainrai's right to appoint an administrator in February. The taxman backed down on that occasion but is believed to be deeply frustrated by the club's behaviour and angry at sporting regulations that put millionaire players ahead of the public purse.
HMRC's debts make up only 18% of the unsecured total (everything apart from Chainrai's loan and smaller amounts owed to banks) so it cannot block a CVA proposal on its own. It can, however, ask for a place on a creditors' committee that will oversee Andronikou's likely supervision of the CVA and voting for that body will also take place on Thursday.
Gaydamak's investment vehicle Ocadia, the PFA and French clubs Lens and Rennes are among the other candidates for a seat on the three-to-five-strong committee.
For his part, Andronikou remains confident he will be given the mandate to prepare a CVA and then later this month get the backing he needs to take the club out of administration. The search for a buyer for the club would also intensify.
Providing the CVA process goes smoothly, Pompey can expect to start next season's Championship campaign with no further points-penalties beyond the nine points already taken from them by the Premier League this season. But further sanctions are possible if the club misses CVA payments, tax obligations or other liabilities.
Failure to agree a CVA would have dire implications for the club, with liquidation (and an end to Portsmouth FC) being the most likely outcome.
What remains less certain is the appetite for a thorough investigation of how the 2008 FA Cup winners managed to get themselves in such an appalling financial mess. Andronikou as the club's current administrator and would-be CVA supervisor would be expected to take the lead here but precedents from previous football administrations are not encouraging.
Pompey manager Avram Grant, however, is adamant that those who brought the south-coast outfit to its knees should not go unpunished.
"The people who did something wrong have to be punished," Grant told BBC Sport.
"At this moment those people are sitting in restaurants, eating and drinking with their families, and nothing has happened to them. Only the fans and the players have been punished."
Portsmouth's remarkable decline is laid bare in a BBC documentary called "Fit and Proper Persons?" to be broadcast on Sunday, 9 May, at 1515 BST on BBC 1 South and Sky channel 984. It will also be available on the iPlayer and BBC News.
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