POMPEY are closing in on a compromise deal with Dave Kitson to end his Fratton Park stay.
Trevor Birch yesterday held advanced talks with the striker’s agent over cancelling the remaining 12 months of his contract.
The Blues’ administrator described the discussions as ‘meaningful’ as he seeks to remove the final three big earners from the club’s wage bill before August 10 – the date Birch says Pompey will be liquidated unless all of their senior players leave.
Kitson is one of those three still tied to the club, along with Liam Lawrence and Tal Ben Haim. While there remains a club interested in buying Lawrence, there have been no enquiries for either Kitson or Ben Haim.
Intriguingly, Ben Haim has held conversations with prospective owners, Portpin’s Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir, in an attempt to resolve his personal situation.
In the meantime, Birch has been progressing on the Kitson front. And he is confident the former Stoke striker will not be the last player to leave Pompey as the possibility of liquidation looms.
He told The News: ‘I think we can view the current situation with Dave Kitson as good news.
‘We are talking and talking sensible. Matters are significantly better than they were before.
‘He has not got another club to move to, so we have to pay a figure for him to walk away from his current contract.
‘Let’s face it, it is hard for any player to do that, especially when most of them have the security of a club to go to.
‘It is a big leap of faith for him to negotiate when effectively he is going into nothing. There are some meaningful discussions going on, though, and in terms of time frame, this one may be tied in with everything else.
‘I can say it certainly won’t be Dave Kitson who will be the last man.
‘I am loath to say everything is looking more encouraging now regarding the club, as there is still a lot to do.
‘It is still a work-in-progress – but we are still in the game.’
Birch remains optimistic a deal to sell Lawrence can also be thrashed out this week.
The interested club have not been named, although Cardiff have been monitoring the situation over the summer.
There is also the problem of Kanu to be resolved, regardless of the Nigerian striker having now left the club.
Pompey are awaiting a date for a Football League hearing to settle their dispute with the veteran striker and his barrister. Birch disagrees with the £3m claim which has been lodged with league chiefs against the club.
Finally, there is Ben Haim, whose last 12 months of his contract is worth around £2m.
He has long represented the biggest concern when reducing the wage bill.
However, Pompey’s joint-administrator revealed the Israel international has held discussions with Portpin.
He added: ‘There has been no progress with Ben Haim.
‘He knows what the deal is and refused the last offer because he is trying to get more.
‘Other people are also meeting with him, though.
‘He has had conversations with Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir.
‘However, I am still dealing with him.’