Appy pleads with players not to let Pompey die

Pompey boss Michael Appleton believes senior players need to reach quick compromises    Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey boss Michael Appleton believes senior players need to reach quick compromises Picture: Robin Jones
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Michael Appleton has pleaded with his senior players not to let Pompey be liquidated.

Trevor Birch’s negotiations to remove the final eight high earners from the Blues’ wage bill have stalled.

It’s a stalemate the administrator believes could result in the club ceasing to exist before the season kicks off on August 18.

Since Hayden Mullins and Aaron Mokoena left nine days ago, there have been no further departures from the Blues.

That’s despite Birch claiming to have since held talks with the remaining senior players and their agents over compromise agreements as he seeks to drive down the £8m wage bill.

In addition, Fratton Park staff were yesterday called into a meeting where they were told to expect further redundancies – which was later confirmed in a club statement.

News of the latest worrying developments filtered back to the squad in Benahavis ahead of last night’s friendly against Gibraltar.

And a concerned Appleton has called on the eight players at home to lower their demands to help keep the club in existence.

The Pompey boss said: ‘We all have to work together on this and, hopefully, come to some kind of solution – the sooner the better for everyone’s sake.

‘We are hoping there is an understanding between the players who are left that there isn’t a perfect solution to any of this.

‘Maybe one side is going to do better than the other but it is not as easy or as cut throat as that.

‘There has to be a little bit of give and a little bit of take rather than all give and all take. We all have to come to an agreement.

‘I look at what Hayden (Mullins) did and it was a breath of fresh air.

‘Here is someone who has been around the game for quite a long time, he played a lot of Premier League football and understands the club and the position it is in.

‘He has, first and foremost, taken a significant pay cut to go to Birmingham and also taken a compromise on the money he is owed through deferrals.

‘And he has moved on because he has realised the situation and been really sensible about it. You can only hope others do the same otherwise there will be no club.’

Of the remaining senior players, seven were left in Eastleigh while the rest of Appleton’s men have travelled to Spain – and Kanu remains in Nigeria.

Encouragingly there does remain interest. In addition to Luke Varney being pursued by Leeds, clubs are also monitoring David Norris, Erik Huseklepp and Liam Lawrence.

Birch added: ‘There’s intransience when it comes to getting them moving out or compromising. We are at a stalemate and that is why the start of the season has to be in jeopardy.

‘I have just got to keep chivvying away hoping something is going to happen.

‘Four of them there is interest in, although Varney is the only direct offer.

‘It is absolutely vital these players do leave, I cannot emphasise that enough.

Birch added: ‘We are having trouble with more or less all the players. A lot of them are not prepared to take any compromise deal over a period of time.

‘They want it straight up and not over the time period I am suggesting which is four years and written into the CVA.

‘We are talking with (Tal) Ben Haim and an agreement cannot be reached because of his demands. While with (Dave) Kitson and his agent there is no compromise and no wish to come to an agreement.’