PORTSMOUTH Football Club is officially debt free.
That is the announcement delivered from the club today to delight the Fratton faithful.
The News understands the club has paid off around £7m within the last 18 months – almost two years ahead of schedule.
It has wiped out the legacy debts inherited by the community ownership after taking it out of administration in April 2013.
The landmark has been achieved through early settlements with all 24 former players owed money by previous regimes.
That includes Dave Kitson, Tal Ben Haim, Liam Lawrence, Michael Brown and Richard Hughes.
In addition, four foreign football clubs have reached agreements, in addition to the paying-off of various other legacy debts, including money to Portsmouth City Council.
And delighted chief executive Mark Catlin is plotting a promising future ahead.
He said: ‘Pompey is completely legacy debt free – but that is just the start.
‘It is a fantastic achievement and a weight hanging over the club since coming out of administration 18 months ago has been removed.
‘We are at ground zero now. This club was in a crater and we are out of that now with foundations built.
‘The club has turned itself around and got itself on a level playing field. We are debt-free and keep moving forward and progressing, never taking our eye off the ball.
‘It is important we stay under the microscope and cannot allow ourselves to go to that level again.
‘This has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone. I cannot overstate the effort of the staff, the leadership of chairman Iain McInnes, the tremendous board support and, of course, the magnificent fans.
‘Our finance director Tony Brown has done a fantastic job, and it has been under his stewardship this has been made this possible. We are in complete control of the club’s destiny. We start here.’
The Professional Footballers’ Association signed off the settlement deals with its members in the past week.
Originally, repayments were scheduled to end in July 2016.
Pompey also repaid a loan to Point Estates Ltd director Stuart Robinson in July.
Turbulent history hopes to be reaching an end
POMPEY have had a turbulent history since lifting the FA Cup just over six years ago.
The club faced three relegations and two periods of administration.
There have been five separate owners since then; Sulaiman Al Fahim, Ali Al Faraj, Balram Chainrai, Vladimir Antonov and Roman Dubov and finally, the fans’ consortium.
The fans finally took over the club on April 10, 2013.
A deal was struck with Chainrai’s Portpin over the value of Fratton Park to allow the trust to proceed with the purchase of the club.
Last year, the club vowed to pay back creditors, as shown in The News front page, pictured, from Saturday, September 7, 2013.