FANS fear for Pompey’s future after the club’s owners went into administration.
The News revealed online yesterday that Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) had gone into administration – leaving Pompey hunting for their sixth owner in just over two years.
The club is not in administration itself and says it has cash to survive in the ‘short term’. But the club desperately urged new investors to come forward.
The turn of events comes after CSI’s main investor Vladimir Antonov was arrested in London last week for an alleged £250m fraud at Bankas Snoras – a bank he is the majority shareholder of in Lithuania.
The Russian, who appeared at an extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Friday and was given a £75,000 bail to reappear on December 16, resigned as Pompey chairman yesterday afternoon – plunging the club into a fresh crisis just 18 months after it came out of administration itself.
Pompey chief executive David Lampitt said: ‘After the extraordinary amount of work put in by so many people over the last 18 months to get to this point, it is incredibly disappointing for the club to find itself in this position.
‘We will continue to do everything possible to safeguard the position of the club and its longer-term future.’
A club statement added: ‘The club has funding in place for the short term, but will now be seeking alternative investment for its longer-term requirements.’
Fans fear Pompey’s cash reserves will not last long, prompting yet another crisis.
Bill Gillon, who runs fan website Pompey Online, said: ‘We don’t actually know how the club will be affected going forward financially. For the short term, it’s not a problem. But what happens after that?’
Colin Farmery, of truebluearmy.com, said: ‘I am not surprised by this turn of events, but the key question is “how is this going to affect Pompey?”. If the club goes insolvent and into administration following this then the Football League will take a very dim view of that.’
Antonov and fellow CSI director Roman Dubov took over Pompey from Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai in June after they’d passed the Football League’s Fit and Proper Person Test.
How or why CSI went under was unclear, but it came as the Lithuanian authorities seized Mr Antonov’s assets abroad.
It’s emerged Mr Chainrai’s Portpin firm filed a mortgage charge over CSI last week, which would allow him to put CSI into administration as a secured creditor. This is understood to be for money CSI owes him following June’s undisclosed takeover deal.
CSI’s administrators were announced as UHY Hacker Young’s Andrew Andronikou and Peter Kubik – two of the men Mr Chainrai appointed as Pompey’s administrators in February 2010 when he ‘reluctantly’ took over the club after the then-owner Ali Al Faraj defaulted on paying back a £17m loan from Mr Chainrai.
Mr Kubik said: ‘We were appointed after uncertainty arose over the future of CSI. CSI has a number of sports-related assets and we are very confident of finding interested buyers for these subsidiaries.
‘Our aim is to ensure that the sale process is as smooth as it possibly can be. We will now be undertaking a period of due diligence at CSI and once that has been completed we will be in a better position to answer questions.’
Mr Chainrai was unavailable for comment.