Hope for supporters trust as creditors vote to allow potential bid
POMPEY fans who want to pull off a community buyout of the club were given hope at a crunch meeting.
Creditors agreed to approve a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) proposed by former owner Balram Chainrai’s company Portpin.
The deal, once finalised, would see creditors get 2p in the pound and bring the club out of administration.
But in an unexpected move, creditors also agreed a modification which allows administrator Trevor Birch to consider alternative bids at any point before Portpin’s deal is finalised.
They also waived a 28-day exclusivity clause which would have made Portpin’s bid the only one allowed during that period.
That gives Pompey Supporters Trust vital time to finalise its own bid for a takeover led by fans.
Portpin’s proposed CVA was approved following an hour-long meeting in Fratton Park’s Victory Lounge yesterday morning.
It was initially adjourned for an hour after just five minutes as representatives from Portpin, liquidators of Pompey’s former operating company Baker Tilly, UHY Hacker Young and shareholders regrouped to discuss the modification.
It came after the trust signalled its intent to take over the club by issuing outline takeover proposals to the administrators on Friday.
The amendment was unanimously passed.
In another amendment, the Football League will act at its discretion over granting the club league membership as a new company and imposing further points penalties.
Portpin’s offer now relies on the club’s big money earners leaving, while any trust bid will have to come to a compromise on £18m owed to Mr Chainrai’s firm.
Mick Williams, of the trust, said he was ‘very pleased’ with the outcome and will be looking to work with Mr Birch to complete the deal.
But he would not disclose the details of the bid.
He said: ‘It’s a serious bid and the administrator has taken it as such. Phase one was to get the proposals to Trevor Birch, phase two is to be in a position where it can be considered seriously and stage three is holding discussions with Trevor.’
Trust spokesman Scott Mclachlan added: ‘It’s a massive step forward for us.
‘The pressure is on for us to complete the bid. We would not have got this far if it wasn’t for the support of the fans. It’s quite clear Portpin don’t want the football club. They want to do a deal and want to be paid some of the money they are owed – how much is key. They need to do a deal with the players as that’s the big millstone around the club’s neck.’
Administrator Trevor Birch said: ‘The trust needs to satisfy Portpin, whether it’s by a compromise or a lease for the building.
‘I’m pleased with the modification as it gives me the flexibility to talk to other people.’
What the next few weeks could hold in the fight to own Pompey
POMPEY’S CVA meeting throws up a number of questions over where the club’s future lies.
Q So what happens next after Portpin’s bid was accepted?
A Portpin’s deal relies on shifting the high earners from Pompey.
If this happens, and with the CVA offer already approved, Portpin can tie up the deal ahead of the Pompey Supporters Trust, if the trust bid is not finalised in time.
Finance expert Carl Faulds said: ‘The last remaining significant hurdle is getting agreements with players in regards to future wages.
‘If they don’t agree to reduce wages, and the club does go into liquidation, the parachute monies will not be available and they won’t receive their money.’
Q So how can the trust take over?
A The trust will not disclose its offer in detail.
But there are three ways the trust can take over Pompey instead of Portpin.
It can either pay Balram Chainrai and Portpin the £18m it is owed in full, come to a compromise agreement over how much they are owed, or Trevor Birch can attempt to push a deal through via the courts.
Q Is there a deadline for when the deal has to be completed?
A Since Portpin waived exclusivity, there is no deadline, but it all hinges on players taking a significant pay cut.
The trust will have to act fast to formally submit their bid.
Q Does the modification allow other bidders to come forward?
A Other potential investors can now go forward and express their intentions.
Trevor Birch said the amendment gives him the flexibility to talk to other people.
Q Has the trust submitted a bid yet?
A Not yet. Members need to finalise their proposals before Portpin complete the deal. Trust spokesman Scott Mclachlan said: ‘The amount we have on the table is huge compared to other bids that have rescued clubs in English football.’