Banker puts in bid to buy Fratton Park from Portpin

OFFER Keith Harris has tabled a bid to buy Fratton Park
OFFER Keith Harris has tabled a bid to buy Fratton Park
Chairman Alan Scott. Picture: Sarah Standing (170036-5452)

Older generation rack up the silverware for Pompey

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AN investment banker who wants to take over Pompey has announced he has put in a £6.3m bid to buy Fratton Park.

Keith Harris has put an offer on the table to release the charge on the ground from Balram Chainrai’s company Portpin.

However, the group would then need to buy the club from the administrators and convince the Football League that it should become new owners.

Administrators BDO – formerly known as PKF – and Portpin are set to meet in the High Court next week for a hearing to set the valuation of Fratton Park.

The judge will be asked to give permission to sell the ground against Portpin’s wishes, and then place a value on the ground. But he can’t force the administrators to sell to any one buyer.

Mr Harris’ consortium has offered £6.3m for the ground in order to get it from Portpin

Portsmouth Supporters Trust (PST) also wants to buy the club, in a community-funded takeover.

Ashley Brown, chairman of the PST, said that the Trust would invest between £3m and £5m into the club.

He said: ‘Keith Harris is supposed to be a football man but is making a bid only for the football ground, not the club. It just shows the bid up for what it is. It makes it clear that the PST bid for the football club is in the best interest of the fans and the club.

‘They need to get the football league to change their mind. At the moment they have said they won’t accept any other offers for the football club.

‘We have already exchanged contracts to buy the football club with the administrators.’

David Bick, spokesman for Mr Harris, said: ‘The firm offer of £6.3m was made about two or three weeks ago.

‘We know that Portpin are prepared to release their security with an offer at that level.

‘The issue is still with the administrators.

‘They are still saying that the football league’s position is to deal with the PST.

‘We don’t think that’s the position at all. But they appear determined at the moment to go ahead with this hearing next week.

‘They know they are sitting here with a firm offer from us which will make £750,000 available to the unsecured creditors, and a £6.3m bid for the stadium.

‘We appreciate that everybody wants to see Portpin away from this for good. On that basis, we decided to make an outright cash offer for the stadium.’

Mr Bick said that if the bid was accepted, there would be no further involvement by Portpin or Mr Chainrai.

He also confirmed that there was around £3m available to keep the club running if the takeover did go through.

‘We think there’s a big question mark with the PST bid,’ he said.

‘It’s one thing buying a club but they have to leave enough working capital to run the club afterwards.

‘Our fear is that they get the bid through and in a year’s time, they are in financial trouble. With Keith’s bid, it will ensure the financial survival of the club.’

A spokesman for BDO said: ‘We are continuing to prepare for next week’s court case.

‘Because of the situation we aren’t going to comment in any detail on this.’

WHAT DOES THE COURT CASE INVOLVE?

NEXT week’s court case will determine the value of Fratton Park.

Portpin is asking any group wishing to purchase the club to hand over around £9m for the ground.

But the PST says it is worth far less and has offered £3m for it.

Now it will be up to a judge to decide how much the ground is worth.

Due to take place at the High Court in London, the hearing will be held on either Wednesday or Thursday.

If the judge agrees with the Trust about the value of the ground, it will then formally allow them to complete the takeover and own Pompey.