League tells city council it cannot guarantee loan

Fratton Park
Fratton Park
Adam May. Picture: Colin Farmery

Midfielder aiming to become Pompey regular

96
Have your say

PORTSMOUTH City Council has been told any loan it gives supporters to buy Pompey will not be guaranteed by the Premier League in parachute payments.

City leaders wanted assurances that if it loaned the Pompey Supporters’ Trust £1.45m, it would get it back.

Around £12m is expected to go to Pompey from the Premier League in staggered payments.

But the Premier League has said it cannot reserve part of the cash to the city council.

It said only the administrator Trevor Birch or a new owner could do so.

When pulling out of buying Pompey this week, Balram Chainrai said all the payments – £12m in total – had already been pre-assigned to paying off football creditors, a claim denied by Mr Birch.

The administrator has continued to stress that none of the cash has been earmarked.

Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock said: ‘Trevor Birch said the money has not been assigned, only Trevor Birch can assign it. What the public needs to know is, has he agreed to assign it to anything?

‘If that’s the cash then the commitment from the trust and the council to pay it back using parachute payments is not valid.’

The News has learned that the football creditors are owed around £8-9m following compromise agreements.

The supporters’ trust said if it took ownership at Fratton it would scrap that agreement and offer the creditors just £2m, paid through parachute payments. It has also agreed to use the parachute payments to repay the council’s loan in full.

But an email from Premier League lawyers – seen by The News – to the city council said if funds were to be pre-assigned by the administrator then it would render any future plans by a new owner to spend the money ‘impossible’.

The supporters’ trust says it would not comment on negotiations in public.

Spokesman Colin Farmery added: ‘We are working hard behind the scenes and have a good relationship with Trevor, who is working to achieve a solution that ensures that Portsmouth Football Club is saved.’

Meanwhile, city council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he was worried over the trust’s offer of £2m to former players.

He said: ‘If players don’t agree to losing two-thirds then the player can kill the business plan and force the club into liquidation and that’s my real worry.’

‘It might be the players decide they could get more from the club being liquidated, then they could take it to that.’