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Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 13:24 UK

Portsmouth creditors vote in favour of deal over debts

Portsmouth's Fratton Park
Fratton Park will be hosting Championship football next season

By Matt Slater

Portsmouth's long-term prospects look much brighter after creditors backed a deal which should see the Fratton Park outfit exit administration this summer.

Needing the support of those owed at least 75% of the unsecured debt, Pompey's proposed Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) got 81.3% of the vote.

The administrator will now press on with the plan to repay creditors at least 20p in the pound over five years.

Unsecured creditors of the Championship club are owed a total of £105m.

The only real opposition to the CVA - a requisite for clubs hoping to avoid further points penalties - came from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which has 28 days to appeal against the decision.

Any hopes of success HMRC might harbour will depend on its ability to convince the courts the public purse is owed considerably more than the £24m Pompey's administrators claim.

That figure is up from the £17.1m which was made public in April but half what the taxman has been claiming more recently.

Crucially for Portsmouth, £17.1m (or £24m) does not give HMRC enough votes to block the CVA.


After the meeting, HMRC issued a terse statement that gave little away apart from its continued annoyance with the situation at Portsmouth.

"HMRC notes that the result of today's vote was to accept the CVA proposals. We will now be carefully considering our position," it said.

"HMRC stands by the full amount of its claim (£37m). We will now carefully consider our position following (the administrator's) decision to reduce the amount of our claim for voting purposes."

But Thursday's vote will come as a great relief to the South Coast club's supporters and its lead administrator Andrew Andronikou.

Nigel Tresidder, chairman of the Pompey Supporters' Club central branch, attended the vote and welcomed the opportunity to move the club on from its recent troubles.

"I think the people in charge of the club are confident of winning any appeal (from HMRC) but it's time the uncertainty came to an end," said Tresidder.

He and others will be hoping Andronikou can now press on with the business of selling the club to a more committed owner than current incumbent Balram Chainrai.

The Hong Kong-based businessman became Pompey's fourth different owner in the space of six months in January and has repeatedly professed his intention to sell up at the first opportunity.

With a large degree of the uncertainty surrounding the club now almost resolved, Andronikou's sales job should have got much easier, and there are reports of interest from places as far afield as Canada and Ukraine.

So far that interest has not got much further than internet speculation but with Portsmouth now less likely to face a further points penalty for failing to secure a CVA, and approximately two-thirds of the club's overall debt wiped away, it is, at least, a going concern again.

David Lampitt, Portsmouth's new chief executive, was in no doubt about the importance of the CVA vote, describing it as a "hugely significant day for the club" and any fears Pompey may not be able to fulfil its first fixture in the Championship next season - a trip to Coventry City - can probably be dismissed.

Where this leaves the wider debate about football's shaky finances is less certain, particularly the growing dispute between the sport and HMRC.

The taxman may have to admit defeat in this dispute but he has managed to gain a number of concessions from Andronikou (a thorough investigation into what has happened at Fratton Park over the last few years being the most valuable) and sent a clear message to the rest of football: pay your taxes.

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see also
Portsmouth start against Coventry
17 Jun 10 |  Championship
New twist in Pompey creditor saga
07 Jun 10 |  Portsmouth
Pompey chief keen to land manager
04 Jun 10 |  Portsmouth
Pompey creditors offered 20% deal
26 May 10 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth debts close to 120m
21 Apr 10 |  Portsmouth
Pompey administrator role probed
02 Mar 10 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth Europa appeal rejected
22 Apr 10 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth enter administration
26 Feb 10 |  Portsmouth
Points deduction unjust - Grant
27 Feb 10 |  Portsmouth
Pompey labelled 'dysfunctional'
26 Feb 10 |  Portsmouth

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