POMPEY could face liquidation within five weeks, unless it offloads its top earners.
That’s the view of Antony Fanshawe, of Begbies Traynor insolvency firm.
The company has been advising the Pompey Supporters’ Trust on its bid to buy the club.
It says the players’ compensation payments could stymie both the PST bid to buy Pompey, and a bid from Balram Chainrai’s Portpin.
Under insolvency rules, football creditors, such as players, are entitled to the whole amount of money they are owed both in wages and in payments to compensate them for having their contracts cancelled early.
It is this rule, says Mr Fanshawe, which will see Pompey go out of existence unless the players agree to walk away with less money by July 23.
He said: ‘This is as serious as it gets.
‘If this isn’t sorted out there’s going to be no deal and the players will get nothing.
‘It needs to be done now, because the CVA meeting is on June 25 and then there’s 28 days for anyone making the deal to walk away.’
Pompey are expecting to get parachute payments of £14m next season.
But the players’ wages add up to £24.5m, which leaves a £10.5m hole for Pompey’s new owners to attempt to fill.
There would be no money to keep the club running day-to-day, and at that point there could be only one option left to Pompey’s administrators – to liquidate the club.
‘It’s just laughable,’ said Mr Fanshawe.
‘The figure has got to be brought down.’
The PST is due to table its own bid to buy Pompey next week, but the issue of players’ compensation could see that under threat.
The trust would not comment definitively, but said: ‘We have always maintained that without a significant reduction in the annual wage bill it would be impossible for the trust to put together a sustainable bid.
‘If the highest wage earning players are not removed soon the club is in very real danger.’
But Pompey administrator Trevor Birch said there is no need for panic and the deals can go ahead as planned.
He said: ‘The players don’t know what the amount of compensation they can expect will be yet.
‘This is not something that happens now – players are paid their compensation at some point in the future.
‘It’s not a quick process and they still don’t know who is going to take over or the money that will be on offer.’