Birch locked in talks over league money

Pompey fans could see the club fold if a buyer doesn't come forward

Pompey fans could see the club fold if a buyer doesn't come forward

Kyle Bennett celebrates scoring his first goal of the match during Pompey's win against Newport County. Picture: Joe Pepler.

Pompey 2 Newport 1: Man of the Match vote

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ADMINISTRATOR Trevor Birch is locked in talks with the Football League to see if vital cash can be handed over to keep Pompey alive.

The News understands Mr Birch is talking to the organisation, along with the Professional Footballers Association, to unlock ‘distribution cash’ – a pot of money from TV rights – which the league is holding onto.

120578-959_BARNSLEY_POMPEY_SR_18/2/12'Action from Pompey vs Barnsley at Oakwell.'Pompey administrator Trevor Birch at Oakwell.''Picture:Steve Reid (120578-959)

120578-959_BARNSLEY_POMPEY_SR_18/2/12'Action from Pompey vs Barnsley at Oakwell.'Pompey administrator Trevor Birch at Oakwell.''Picture:Steve Reid (120578-959)

The monthly payments of £200,000 have been withheld from Pompey because it still owes money to football creditors.

If the cash is secured it would give the club a much-needed financial boost.

It comes as yesterday, the club’s captain Liam Lawrence went to Cardiff on loan for the rest of the season.

Mr Birch, of accountancy firm PKF, would not discuss ongoing talks with the league.

And he was unable to say how much money had been saved by the loan, but said the amount was ‘significant’.

He said: ‘They (Cardiff) will be paying his wages and a loan fee, so it is a significant help.

‘This helps to plug the gap.’

Today, Pompey hosts Middlesbrough – a game some fear could be the club’s last home match before it goes under.

And next week’s away fixture at Brighton, could be the 114-year-old club’s last match ever.

Mr Birch said: ‘If the club actually went into liquidation, then technically that’s it.

‘But there is a ground there and an infrastructure there and somebody would have to try to form a club to start again, which would be at the bottom of the football pyramid.

‘I don’t know what the Football League would do.

‘I don’t think anyone knows which division that new club would start in.’

If the club did go into liquidation, then the Pompey Supporters Trust would implement Plan B and see the rise of a new club.

Scott Mclachlan, spokesman for the trust, said: ‘Plan B will only be executed if we go into liquidation. That has never changed. From liquidation we would get people together, which would implement Plan B. At this stage we can’t give any details on that because we don’t know how far we are off that.’

If the club goes into liquidation it will drop from the second tier of English football to as low as the sixth.

Carl Faulds, director of Whiteley-based Portland Business and Financial Solutions Ltd, said: ‘It is very difficult to say what will happen.

‘I have been talking to the supporters’ trust and they have developed plans for what they could do after liquidation.

‘Where the club is able to re-enter the league would depend on a lot of factors, such as having access to a stadium.

‘It would be very difficult for them to just drop to league one, the Football League does have some discretion, but it is more likely they will end up further down.

‘In terms of ownership, without the debt obviously they will be more attractive, but I think they are still more likely to attract the kind of owner who just wants to run a football club, rather than someone looking to invest in a business.’

Mr Birch said he was doing all he could to keep the club ‘active’ and yesterday an advertisement was placed in the Financial Times in a bid to attract a buyer.

He also said he had been talking to a few people, but that it was ‘early days’.

Yesterday musician and life-long Pompey fan Brian Howe revealed he was still interested in taking over the club.

He clarified it was only his financial backer businessman Vincent Wolanin that was pulling out of a deal.

Mr Howe said: ‘I can’t go into too much detail, but I have been speaking to two English businessmen.

‘I haven’t spoken to Vincent yet.’

Meanwhile, Pompey’s administrators say the club cannot copy Glasgow Rangers Football Club, which is also in administration, which is looking to make players redundant.

A spokesman said: ‘That is not a possibility we have considered because there are differences between Scotland and England.

‘In England we would lose our league membership if we were to do that.’

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