Administrator warns of hard times as Howe says he’ll keep working

PLAN Brian Howe
PLAN Brian Howe
Pompey striker Conor Chaplin Picture: Robin Jones/Digital South

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BRIAN Howe says he is still in the game to potentially become Pompey’s new owner.

The former frontman of Bad Company said he is passionate about securing the club’s troubled future, despite his partner, American businessman Vincent Wolanin, the chairman of American firm Top Notch Entertainment, pulling out last night.

Speaking to The News, Mr Howe, said: ‘If he (Vincent) wanted to give up then I wish he had told me first. I believe in common courtesy that he would have consulted with me first.

‘I’m not in agreement with letting my football club die.’

It comes as administrator Trevor Birch warned time is running out in Pompey’s fight for survival and tomorrow’s match could be one of their last.

Mr Birch, of accountancy firm PKF, yesterday revealed the club could run out of money in mid-March unless a buyer comes in.

He said: ‘Time is of the essence – we are telling people the truth and being honest that the club literally could fold.

‘I hope the fans respond as this might be one of the last few games we have left in the Championship’.

He also said around 7,000 tickets for tomorrow’s match with Middlesbrough remain unsold.

A spokesman for PKF added: ‘Money is coming in to the club from tickets and last weekend’s efforts when we had one of the highest attendances of the year, but money is going out of the door to pay wages and other operating expenses.’

Mr Birch claims around £2.2m in Premier League parachute payments owed to the club will go to former owner Sacha Gaydamak – funds he says could have taken the club through to the end of the season.

Mr Gaydamak who owned the club from 2006 to 2009, will receive an instalment of £640,000, and the same amount over the following three months, according to Mr Birch.

He said the agreement was drawn up by the club’s former administrator Andrew Andronikou in order for Mr Gaydamak to vote in favour of agreeing the Company Voluntary Agreement to bring the club out of administration previously.

He said: ‘We are trying to attack that because we think it’s a security that wasn’t registered properly.

‘The only thing we have got to keep us going is the gate receipts and sponsorship money, which is why the situation is so precarious.

‘I have not been in touch with him (Mr Gaydamak). I would very much welcome to have a discussion with him and I hope he will see me at some stage.’

Mr Birch said Pompey are due to receive parachute payments until 2014.

The payments continue for four years following relegation – as long as the club remains in the Football League.

If Pompey were to fall into League One, they would still be in line for the windfalls.

Mr Birch added: ‘Pompey are due about £14m, but the problem is we have old football creditors and ones still accruing. Out of that £14m there might be £7m to £10m of football creditors that will have to be paid.

‘It makes it that more difficult and puts into doubt if we are able to get through to the end of the season.

‘It’s incredibly difficult – I’ve jumped on a plane that’s crash-landing and trying to bring it down safely. There is a bigger hole in the fuel tank already leaking fuel.’

He also revealed former Pompey chief executive David Lampitt is in Genoa, Italy, trying to secure around £300,000 owed to the club for the transfer of Kevin-Prince Boateng in 2010.

He said: ‘We are trying desperately to get hold of that – there was a sell-on fee that we need to get the appropriate information on, which hasn’t been forthcoming and a deferred part of the transfer fee was due.’

Mr Birch added he was talking to ‘two or three’ parties interested in taking over at Fratton Park.

Mr Howe said he still believes he can organise a takeover of the club and has been holding talks throughout the night with interested groups.

He also said he was not aware Mr Wolanin would be issuing a statement to say they were both pulling out.

He said: ‘Vincent decided to pull out without telling me. We are having to regroup and time is of the essence and it has presented a problem with him (Vincent) not telling me.

‘We had a short, curt conversation yesterday evening – I had not seen the statement.

‘I have never said I have enough money to do this. I have money, but I don’t have enough to do what this club needs.

‘For the past 48 hours I have been scrambling and putting together a team that will help the club and stave off what everyone is dreading. I’m here and doing what I can and am talking to interested parties.

‘I feel pressured, but I’m more motivated than ever.

‘I will be here for as long as it takes for this club to survive. I want to tell people to keep the faith.

‘Maybe I have too much passion, but I’m very worried about the club’s future.

‘This has all my childhood memories and is a major part of my life and I can’t walk away from it.’

A spokesman for PKF said the idea of offering fans the chance to buy season tickets early to give the club an injection of funds had been raised by supporters, but added Mr Birch was uncomfortable with the idea.

Finance expert Carl Faulds said it would be up to the administrator to decide whether the club is liquidated if it runs out of cash.

He said: ‘To continue to trade he needs enough money to cover the amounts to pay out.

‘If it runs out, he would go back to court and say “I am not able to do it” and the court has to decide what it does next. The court could reappoint a different administrator but it’s unlikely.’