Wait goes on for CVA gesture to be honoured

Administrator Andrew Andronikou announced the CVA plans in behalf of Pompey's former owners
Administrator Andrew Andronikou announced the CVA plans in behalf of Pompey's former owners
Mutiny Festival 2017 Picture: Paul Windsor

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It was on May 6, 2010 when Andrew Andronikou stood up to deliver the pledge.

The joint-administrator surveyed the hushed audience gathered in Pompey’s Victory Lounge before reading out his proclamation.

Portpin Limited, those present at the creditors’ meeting were told, had decided to make a grand gesture.

The owners-elect had still to reach an agreement to take the club out of administration.

Nonetheless, should they prove successful in their pursuit, all unsecured creditors with claims of £2,500 or less would be paid in full.

What’s more, crucially this would form part of the CVA, ensuring it became chiselled in stone.

A nod of satisfaction came from many at this surprise bequest.

Others viewed it as the dangling of a delectable carrot to garner enough votes to ensure the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) was agreed.

As it turned out, 81.3 per cent subsequently threw their backing behind the CVA, thereby saving the club from liquidation.

The six who rejected it included Aqua Cars Limited (owed £4,789.52), former manager Paul Hart (owed £450,000) and Shell Gas (owed £5,190.11).

Incidentally, none would have qualified for Portpin’s kind offer.

Still, the motion was delivered by Andronikou on Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir’s behalf – and taken in good faith by Pompey’s small creditors.

That was one year, three months and 22 days ago.

And those entitled to this magnanimous offering have still to receive a single penny.

Portpin’s intentions may have been applauded at the time, but they have still to honour their word.

That has left around 167 small creditors in limbo waiting for a share of a total pot estimated at £115,205.

A florist, a butcher, a carpet cleaner, a taxi driver, a milk man, a youth football team, a charity – the list of debtees goes on.

The question remains: when will they be paid?

The answer is nobody actually knows. Not even those at the top.

Shrugs of shoulders all round from Pompey, restructuring and recovery specialists Baker Tilly and administrators UHY Hacker Young.

As for new owners Convers Sports Initiatives, their decision not to communicate with supporters after almost three months in power means they have still to be asked the question.

That continued silence itself is tough to fathom, but perhaps that is a debate for another day.

In fairness, though, all remain the wrong targets for us to shoot at.

The crux of the problem lies with those who made such pledges in the first place.

Unquestionably it is Portpin’s debt to fulfil, their responsibility. No-one else’s.

As of yet, however, strictly speaking they have not broken any promises.

Granted, Portpin have failed to pay the money.

Although that doesn’t necessarily mean they will never pay it.

And therein lies the real problem.

When the gesture was made nearly one-and-a-half years ago, there does not appear to have been an agreed deadline included.

It therefore makes it difficult for any party to apply pressure on Chainrai & Co to pay up as swiftly as possible.

And there are plenty out there eager to apply the thumbscrews.

Recently, the Pompey Supporters’ Trust took up the mantle.

They were pointed by the club in the direction of Baker Tilly, the appointed liquidators of the old club.

Chris Purkiss, manager of the special investigations team, issued a statement explaining their findings.

He said: ‘The Company Voluntary Arrangement states that these claims will be settled by Portpin Limited. However we are unaware of any agreed deadline by which these creditors must be paid.

‘Our understanding from the former joint-administrators is that there is no agreed timescale for payment of these creditors, although the original intention was that these creditors would be paid as quickly as possible.

‘Whilst we know that the creditor details have been passed to Portpin Limited and/or NewCo it remains unclear as to when the payments will actually be made.’

Over to Portpin. Then again, the ball has always been in their court.

On May 28, 2010, the joint-administrators issued their proposals for the CVA.

Part of it stated: ‘Subject to the approval of the CVA, Portpin Limited has undertaken to pay all unsecured creditors with claims of up to £2,500 in full and to pay any amounts owed to Charitable Organisations in full.

‘Upon repayment, the claims of these creditors will be subrogated to Portpin Limited.’

This was subsequently accepted by creditors as the CVA.

As for the term ‘subrogated’, this means that once the small creditors are paid by Portpin they then take over their £115,205 debt.

In turn, at 20p in the £1, Portpin would receive around £24,000 along with other unsecured creditors.

Still, on October 24, 2010, Pompey came out of administration with Chainrai and Kushnir again seizing control.

The sale of the business and assets of the club was completed to PFC Realisations Limited.

After completion, PFC Realisations Limited changed their name to Portsmouth Football Club (2010) Limited.

A month later, in a publication entitled ‘Setting Out Joint Supervisors’ Proposed Modifications’, joint-administrator Michael Kiely provided an update.

He wrote: ‘I anticipate being in a position to pass all agreed claims to the Debenture Holder for payment in early 2011.’

Then there was the ‘Final Progress Report to Creditors’, dated February 24, 2011.

Kiely stated: ‘I can confirm all charities have now been paid in full by the Debenture Holder and that all received claims of £2,500 and under have been recently passed to the Debenture Holder for review and subsequent payment.’

The so-called ‘Debenture Holder’ as if anyone was in any doubt, refers to PFC2010 and owners Chainrai, Kushnir, Deepak Chainrai and Ashok Patel.

It’s all there in black and white, contained in legal documents.

It must be stressed that fulfilling this pledge is not the responsibility of Portsmouth Football Club.

They may have to deal with the mess left behind and any subsequent backlash but, as a third party, this is not their liability.

That is unless this issue was included as part of the sale. Over to you CSI on that one.

In the meantime, the man who proclaimed his emotional attachment to the club has got on with his life.

The small creditors are still waiting to end this chapter of theirs.