Birch meets Chainrai to discuss club’s future

MOVED Trevor Birch watches the fans' protest from the stand. Inset, Balram Chainrai.  Picture: Steve Reid (120775-732)
MOVED Trevor Birch watches the fans' protest from the stand. Inset, Balram Chainrai. Picture: Steve Reid (120775-732)
Pompey manager Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

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POMPEY administrator Trevor Birch spelled out the dire situation the club is in during a meeting with former owner Balram Chainrai.

The pair yesterday held discussions as Mr Chainrai revealed his intent to become the club’s reluctant owner for a second time and prevent the club from liquidation.

Balram Chainrai

Balram Chainrai

But Mr Birch said he was ‘duty bound’ to speak to him and all Pompey stakeholders, confirming he hopes to hold discussions with Sacha Gaydamak – another former Pompey owner.

Mr Chainrai said he is willing to step in again to protect the £17m he is owed as a secured creditor from his previous spell as owner.

‘I talked to him about the current situation of the administration, the position we are in, and spelled it out to him how dire the situation is’, Mr Birch told The News. ‘He probably hadn’t realised that.

‘He doesn’t want it to go into liquidation. I have assured him that I know what I am doing and trying to sort it out.

‘He’s obviously reluctant to get involved as he doesn’t want to run a football club. It’s not a case of stepping in because the gap at the moment is too large and unknown in terms of what he’s signing up for.

‘He’s reassured that I am doing my best and not trying to liquidate the club – I’m trying to save it.’

Mr Chainrai told Sky Sports News that he will make efforts to become owner again until a new one is found.

He also defended his past handling of Pompey in an interview with The Sun.

He said: ‘I genuinely hoped the club could find a buyer after CSI went into administration. Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of negativity around my involvement in Portsmouth. That made it extremely difficult for me to intervene this time.

‘A lot of that negativity is misplaced and unacceptable when you consider we initially loaned previous owners money in good faith.

‘I am not the villain of the piece here. I am certainly not the one holding Portsmouth to ransom, anything but.’

There are still ‘two or three’ parties interested in taking over Pompey, according to Mr Birch, who said he was focusing on restructuring the club’s costs.

He added: ‘I’m continuing to work on plugging the funding gap to get us to the end of the season and also working on the cost structure, primarily player costs, for next year in order to reduce ongoing losses that attract potential purchasers.’

The prospect of Mr Chainrai returning to Fratton Park has been met with negativity among some sections of the Pompey fan base.

Bill Gillon, owner of fans’ website Pompey Online, said: ‘There are a lot of things from his previous tenure that still need to be addressed.

‘He was looking after it last time but here we are a little time later potentially back to square one.

‘I cannot see the situation improving at all with Balram Chainrai.

‘We are going to get a split in the fanbase – he’s a divisive figure.’

Bob Beech, of campaign group SOS Pompey, said: ‘Under no circumstances can that man be allowed back to the club.

‘I can see him back but I plead with every single Pompey fan not to sell their soul in the misguided thought that he’s some kind of saviour.’