Council rules out taking sides in Pompey bid war

SUPPORT Fans are bidding to take control of the club
SUPPORT Fans are bidding to take control of the club
The fragment from the Union Jack believed to have flown on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Credit: Sotheby's

Flag from HMS Victory and Lord Nelson’s love letters up for sale at London auction

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FANS trying to take over Pompey will probably not receive a loan from the taxpayer, the leader of the council has said.

Lib Dem councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson tried to reassure sceptical members of the public by arguing the money would only be made available if the only alternative for the club was liquidation.

Portsmouth City Council’s leader said now that a competitive bidding process is underway – with the trust taking on Balram Chainrai’s Portpin – the authority could not take sides.

And as revealed in The News the trust is hoping other options, such as help from Upham property developer Stuart Robinson, will make the bridging loan unnecessary.

Both parties have been given until next Friday to complete their bids by PKF partner and administrator Trevor Birch.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘There are a whole series of conditions attached to this loan.

‘And one of them is that the council is not going to get involved with something that is competitive.

‘We were a lender of last resort and offered something to stop the football club being liquidated.

‘There is now a competitive bid between two parties and it is not for the council to back one or another. What we wanted to make sure is that liquidation couldn’t happen.’

Pompey Supporters’ Trust spokesman Colin Farmery said it was too early to say what will happen at the end of next week – when administrator Trevor Birch’s deadline arrives.

He said: ‘We are continuing to talk to a number of parties about our bid and we are confident that we will have something concrete by the end of next week.’

The News revealed two weeks ago the trust has been in discussions with property developer Stuart Robinson over plans to safeguard Fratton Park as part of its proposals to buy Pompey.

Part of the deal would see Mr Robinson buying the stadium and leasing it back to the trust, The News understands.

And Mr Farmery has confirmed discussions have been held between the trust and a number of developers during the takeover bid process.

He said: ‘Ultimately, this is about getting the right property deal to ensure the long-term future of the club.’

Mr Robinson is a property developer based in Upham, near Winchester.

Hackberry Developments UK – of which he is a director – was involved in plans to redevelop Yarnfield Park in Staffordshire, which was occupied by a BT training college, to build up to 350 homes.