League chairman ‘will do all he can to save Pompey’

IN CHARGE Football League chairman Greg Clarke. Inset, Trevor Birch
IN CHARGE Football League chairman Greg Clarke. Inset, Trevor Birch
Milan Lalkovic. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey winger out until the new year

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FOOTBALL League chairman Greg Clarke says he will do what he can to keep Pompey alive.

His views come after the league agreed to release television cash that was being withheld to the club.

Trevor Birch

Trevor Birch

The vital funds – a total of £800,000 spread over four monthly payments of £200,000 – should enable the Blues to complete the season.

It was being held back to make sure the club did not spend money due to other teams after it was placed into administration, Mr Clarke confirmed.

Speaking to The News, he said: ‘We had a number of discussions with administrator Trevor Birch over the last 10 days to ascertain whether Portsmouth would be able to trade until the end of the season and he indicated that would be possible.

‘We took the decision to release those funds on a monthly basis and do our best to help give the club some time to find an owner.

‘We don’t always do it. We have to have a lot of faith in the administrator.

‘We know Trevor and we know he is an honest and honourable man. We believe those funds will give Portsmouth two things – one is the chance to exist and secondly use it as a platform to attract a new owner.’

A new owner would need to invest ‘many millions of pounds’ to keep Pompey alive, according to Mr Clarke, who said the organisation will support Mr Birch in his search for a buyer.

‘We would love to see a new owner who is committed to preserving the wonderful heritage of Pompey and I can understand how the fans feel, wondering if their football club is going to survive,’ Mr Clarke said.

‘We want them to survive but that’s out of our hands. We, with the administrator, have created the opportunity for someone to come in and buy the club.

‘When I joined two years ago as chairman of the Football League, I made it my number one objective to work to achieve the survival of league clubs in a very challenging economic environment.

‘We spent the last two years looking at cost control, which will limit the ability of football clubs spending money beyond their means.

‘But we still have legacy issues with clubs that have been in financial difficulties for a while and to be frank Portsmouth have been in trouble since they went into administration in the Premier League a few years back and most of the problems we are seeing now are ramifications of that.’

He said the events leading up to Pompey’s administration were ‘unique’, adding releasing the funds was ‘the sensible thing to do’ after analysing the circumstances surrounding the club.

He added: ‘If we didn’t have that level of confidence we wouldn’t have released the money.

‘When the administrator has found a new buyer, we want to know all about them, where they come from, what their track record is, what their reputations are.

‘We want to know if they are good stewards of the club and we will make sure there are no known criminal convictions or black marks on their names.

‘Provided they are fine, upstanding people with the money to save the club, and have the best interests of the club at heart, we will support them.

‘The Football League will do what it can to keep the club alive until a new owner comes to takeover.

‘But then a vibrant football club with good fans is much more attractive to a new owner and I would encourage the fans to keep on supporting their club.’