A court hearing to clear the way for the Pompey Supporters’ Trust to take over the club has been postponed for another week.
The News understands the Professional Footballers’ Association is yet to rubber stamp the PST’s bid to buy Pompey, in the wake of a rival bid being lodged by financier Keith Harris’s consortium.
Without the PFA’s blessing, the PST is unable to bid for the club, and Pompey’s administrators PKF has been forced to ask for another postponement at the High Court.
Gordon Taylor, chairman of the PFA, told The News it was ‘unfair’ to criticise the association for its action, and said the PFA supported the Football League’s decision to reject Mr Harris’s bid.
The Football League had said Mr Harris’s bid was made too late in the day to be accepted, and it was believed the PFA was urging the FL to change its mind.
The case was due to go ahead tomorrow, but will now be heard on February 21.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt today brought the subject to the attention of the Prime Minister, saying: ‘Does the Prime Minister take a dim view of people who say one thing and do another, such as...purporting to support fan ownership of football clubs while undermining the community buy-out of Pompey, as the Professional Footballers Association has done this week?’
Mr Cameron told Ms Mordaunt that her campaign to help the PST take Pompey over was ‘very important’ and wished her well with it.
A source close to Pompey told The News that the PFA prefers Mr Harris’s bid because it would see creditors paid quicker.
Mr Harris and Portpin, which holds a charge over Fratton Park, have come to an agreement which would see Fratton Park leased to the club.
This would avoid the need to go to court to have the Portpin charge lifted, and therefore Mr Harris could be the new owner in a very short time.
Mr Taylor said: ‘I’m quite upset about what’s happened, and it’s quite unfair to be critical of the PFA and the players.
‘The goalposts of the bid have been changed again and where once the players would have been the first to have been paid, they are now the third,
‘We have absolutely no objection to the supporters’ trust.’
Mr Taylor said the postponement would allow the PFA to examine the bid and ensure the players could be kept up to date with when they could expect to get the money owed to them.
He added: ‘Please understand it is not my position, or the PFA’s, to dictate the best buyer for the club.
‘That is a matter for the Football League and the club’s administrators.’
The Pompey Supporters’ Trust has welcomed PKF’s continued support for its bid and remains confident it would prevail, despite the latest adjournment in the High Court.
They say they have reached £2.5m in fans’ pledges and have agreed a short-term loan from Portsmouth City Council to buy Fratton Park from day one.
Colin Farmery, PST spokesperson, said: ‘Our bid is ready to go as we have been saying for some time now. ‘We have around £2.5m in escrow from fan pledges and our individual investors, a figure we are confident will grow substantially once our bid proceeds.
‘We have also agreed a short-term loan through the local authority and our property partner to ensure we can own Fratton Park from Day One.
‘The adjournment is frustrating, but PKF make it clear we remain the preferred bidder.’
He added that the Trust’s relationship with the Professional Footballers Association was good.
‘Negotiations with the PFA have been ongoing for some time now and they have been very supportive of what we are trying to do at Portsmouth. We also recognise the role that they have played in ensuring player support during the administration.
‘These negotiations are detailed and complex, but following our most recent round of discussions we are confident that with the continued goodwill of the PFA we will find a resolution,’ he added.
A spokesman for PKF added: ‘Following the Football League’s announcement last week we continue to work with the PST as preferred bidders, and we continue to work on the court application.’