League turn down Pompey plea

Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
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Pompey have been told by the Football League: You still cannot sign any players.

Michael Appleton is desperate to finally start recruiting for life in League One.

Yet despite the CVA winning approval and Portpin and the Pompey Supporters’ Trust waiting in the wings to seize ownership, Trevor Birch has been told the club are still not allowed to bring in players.

The Football League have reiterated they want to see more of the existing squad depart – and the massive wage bill reduced as a consequence.

That in itself has been a long-standing problem Birch has been striving to solve this summer.

However, Tal Ben Haim, Kanu and Aaron Mokoena are three players so far to have failed to agree compromise deals.

That stance is not only putting any prospective takeover in danger but has halted Appleton’s attempts to bring in new additions.

In 10 days, Pompey face the Hawks at Westleigh Park in the first friendly of the summer.

In the meantime, there are only 10 senior professionals expected for the start of pre-season training at Eastleigh on Monday.

And it adds up to more frustration for Appleton in his attempts to rebuild the club.

Birch said: ‘The Football League still want us to reduce the wage bill, so at the moment the answer to whether players can be brought in is “no”.

‘That is regardless of the CVA being granted. In that respect it doesn’t change anything.

‘It is not an easy situation because of the players.

‘Basically it remains tricky bringing anyone else in while the scenario remains the same.

‘You try to see all sides of it – it is difficult for Michael, the Football League and for the PFA.

‘Lots of things need to come together in a limited time.

‘There is no indication when this will change, although once players start to leave it will free things up. It’s a fluid situation.

‘In the meantime, these players continue to make sacrifices in the form of deferrals to help the club continue, so it’s not black and white.

‘But it changes on a daily basis, so hopefully there will be better news soon.’

The clarification is the latest blow to Appleton, who continues in his attempts to attract players to Fratton Park.

At present he is only allowed to bring in triallists – among those attending pre-season will be goalkeeper Darjan Curanovic.

But he is unable to sign any of his targets – whether on loan or permanently.

And Birch has nothing but praise for the Blues boss in how he continues to handle the situation.

He added: ‘It is very, very difficult for Michael but that is what we have to deal with. There is no moping about.

‘Michael continues to carry on regardless with the hand he is being dealt. It doesn’t stop him whatsoever.

‘That is why, in my opinion, he has a big future in management.’