Birch: No Pompey signings until players depart

Kanu is one of the Pompey players Trevor Birch needs to remove from the wage bill
Kanu is one of the Pompey players Trevor Birch needs to remove from the wage bill
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ADMINISTRATOR Trevor Birch has warned there will be no Pompey arrivals until at least two players are removed from the wage bill.

That is the grim reality facing Michael Appleton as he battles to recruit ahead of the Blues’ League One campaign.

There is currently no Football League registration embargo on Pompey – despite being in administration.

However, the club’s bloated payroll is instead prohibiting any attempts at adding to the current squad of 11 senior professionals.

Birch insists the Football League will not sanction any new signings as it would increase the existing £9.5m wage bill.

He is already seeking to drive that figure down to £4m or £5m – bringing it closer to fellow League One clubs.

In addition, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) would not welcome the arrival of more players to Fratton Park at a time when existing staff have agreed to take deferrals.

For Appleton, the situation represents another brick wall.

The Blues boss has spent the close season working exhaustively on identifying targets and holding talks in a bid to put prospective deals in place.

Yet Birch is adamant nothing can happen until players start to depart – whether by sale or compromise agreements.

Pompey’s administrator said: ‘There is no embargo as such. The barrier is the size of the player payroll at the moment.

‘Until the Football League can see some sort of movement in terms of players leaving, they will not allow us to sign anyone.

‘I think once you get two or three out of the door you have got a good case to go to the Football League to ask if they can let us start doing one or two deals.

‘Otherwise, you are increasing your wage costs.

‘At the moment they do not want that wage increased, they want it reduced.

‘Unless a signing is made right at the lower end – such as young players – there will be nobody arriving.

‘We have to accept the club is going to miss out on players at the moment.

‘I’m afraid it is highly unlikely anyone will be coming into the club until some depart.’

Those players currently on Pompey’s books are effectively earning less than £10,000-a-week at present, in line with deferrals applied since April.

It is a short-term solution, with those affected due the outstanding balance in the future.

In the meantime, Birch remains in constant dialogue with the PFA.

And he is aware how the recruitment of new players on full pay could cause conflict.

He added: ‘There are many wage referrals at the moment.

‘I am in negotiation with the PFA in terms of player deals and they certainly would not be impressed if we started bringing in new signings.

‘In turn, they could make certain demands such as wanting our distribution money from the Football League.

‘It is a very difficult situation.’