Michael Appleton revealed his gut feeling is Pompey will survive their brush with oblivion but warned fans: It could go down to the wire.
The Blues boss saw his side claim a 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon in the club’s final pre-season friendly last night.
Goals from Luke Rodgers and Liam Walker sealed the victory.
But the fear is it could well be the club’s last-ever game, with off-field matters far more pressing ahead of tomorrow’s deadline imposed by administrator Trevor Birch.
While Appleton remains optimistic a deal will be done to safeguard the club’s future, club staff have been told to be ready to clear their desks if no deal is struck before the weekend.
Appleton said: ‘I haven’t cleared my desk but there isn’t much in there, to be fair.
‘My gut instinct is that the club will be fine.
‘If we get to a situation where I am able to do work and bring players in, I would like that as quickly as possible.
‘That would give me a few days before the season starts.
‘But, obviously, it’s so important that the club survives and that we are competitive for next season.
‘I’m an optimist but you can only get kicked in the guts so many times.
‘Hopefully, what has happened over the past 10 days or so – with the players leaving and the support around the club – we’ll be in a position where we get an opportunity to be around for another 100 years or whatever it may be.
‘Whether that is Portpin, the Supporters’ Trust or another party, I don’t know.
‘But everyone wants to see this great club survive.
‘Unfortunately, after it’s gone on this long, it’s almost inevitable that it will go down to the wire.
‘The situation is as it has been for a long, long time.
‘Even if a deal is done, my worry is it won’t be done quickly enough for next week (when we travel to Plymouth for the first game).
‘All I would say to the people who are dealing with it is “the sooner the better”.’
Pompey took a step closer to securing their future this morning when it was confirmed Tal Ben Haim had agreed to leave the club.
However, the Blues are still in discussions with Liam Lawrence - the final senior player on the wage bill.
Lawrence has spoken of his willingness to stay at the club and play a part in its rebirth, if a deal can be done.
Meanwhile, there is reported interest from Cardiff City in the Republic of Ireland midfielder.
Regardless, Appleton insists he is in the dark on negotiations.
He said: ‘Nothing has moved on with Liam that I am aware of.
‘I’ve seen the reports about him and Cardiff but he does not know anything about it.
‘Who knows? These things can move on rapidly.
‘We’re getting down to the nitty gritty, so hopefully it gets sorted.
‘It’s a sad thought that it could have been the club’s last game.
‘That’s why I haven’t thought about it that much. We live in hope.’