THE man who claims to be the frontrunner to buy Pompey has revealed his plans for the club.
Joseph Cala, a Sicilian businessman based in the USA and Italy, told The News he has been locked in negotiations to buy Pompey since the club’s parent company, Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI), went into administration in November.
Andrew Andronikou, joint-administrator for CSI, is tight-lipped over the identities of interested bidders but Mr Cala confirmed he wants to take over the club.
If the transaction is successful, and he passes the Football League’s Fit and Proper Persons Test, Mr Cala said he wants to pay off the club’s debt using his personal wealth before floating it as a public company in the USA within three weeks.
Regular audits of the club could be carried out by UK accountancy firm Deloitte, Mr Cala added.
The 50-year-old, who has experience in floating private companies on the stock exchange, said he would become the club’s new chairman after making the club a public company.
He rubbished rumours claiming he was heading a consortium backed by investors from Abu Dhabi.
Mr Cala, who said he has a personal wealth of 100m euros, told The News: ‘If the bid is successful, I will be involved 100 per cent. I will be the owner, I will be the first one in the office switching on the lights and the last one out.
‘If Pompey goes public, the entire world has access to the club.
‘Look at Juventus. Before it went public it was worth £20m, now it is worth £400m.
‘Any investor can invest into the club because they have the ability.
‘Public companies are the most honest entities.
‘I believe honesty and transparency is a must, that’s why nothing will be hidden.
‘There is nothing more serious than committing fraud. If I defraud someone of $10, the US Securities and Exchange Commission will investigate and I will go to jail for 50 years.’
Mr Cala said he believes he is the frontrunner for the club and would pass the Football League’s ownership criteria.
‘Negotiations have been in the final stages since the beginning but so many parties are involved,’ he added.
‘Andrew Andronikou is trying to make sure the ship is going in the right direction, but everyone is talking about money payments and no one really talks about football or what’s best for the club.
‘For me, I am coming from a different approach where I am looking to live in Portsmouth and be part of the club.
‘I have been an officer of public companies in the USA for 25 years. I believe in transparency because if you are dishonest the truth comes out.
‘I am in the final stages, I am at the front doors. One door is already open and I want to make sure the other door opens too.
‘I want to make sure there are no surprises around the corner.’
He hopes a decision will be made by Wednesday.
Mr Cala said around £33m of debts will need to be paid back to creditors and around £10m is needed to run the club for a year.
He added all small creditors, who have been waiting for payment since the club’s administration in 2010, will be paid.
‘I have to clear the debts but I will not spend more than what comes into the club’, added Mr Cala.
‘I felt sad for the small creditors. I will pay every creditor if I am owner.’
In 2011, he had a short stint as owner of Italian side Salernitana before Mr Cala said it was forced to fold by authorities due to debts left by the previous owner.
He said: ‘I was only there for three weeks before it was shut down by the Italian police.
‘There were 36 players who had not been paid for two years.’
CSI administrator Mr Andronikou would not confirm if Mr Cala is a potential buyer.
He said: ‘Until the deal is done I cannot say anything.
‘Because it is such an important event for the football club I want to privilege that.
‘My entire focus is getting this deal sorted as it’s so pivotal for the club’s future.’
The Football League is due to convene for its monthly meeting today and is set to discuss the Pompey situation, but Mr Andronikou said he does not expect anything significant to come from it.
· June 1 - CSI takes over Pompey.
· November 17 - Pompey’s owner Vladimir Antonov says it’s ‘business as usual’ despite his Lithuanian Snoras bank being placed into administration over an alleged missing £250m.
· November 23 - a European-wide arrest warrant for Antonov is issued by Lithuanian authorities over the Snoras bank allegations.
· November 24 - Antonov is arrested in London.
· November 25 - Antonov appears before an extradition hearing and is released on £75,000 bail until December 16. CSI co-owner Roman Dubov says he ‘is trying to save the business’.
· November 29 - CSI goes into administration. Pompey itself is not in administration, although chief executive David Lampitt urges potential new investors to come forward.
· November 30 - administrator Andrew Andronikou says there is only a matter of weeks to save the club.
· December 16 - Antonov appears in court and is bailed until January 30.
· December 30 - Mr Andronikou says there could be a buyer in three weeks.
· January 11 - The News reveals Joseph Cala is interested in the club.
‘If I want to build a stadium it will be a walk in the park to raise more money to build one.
‘I am very good in the investment world.
‘At the end of the day, the club belongs to the fans. I want to be the priest of a beautiful cathedral.
Read more of Joe Cala’s views in The News today.