Pompey takeover latest: Q&A

120536-943_POMPEY_IPSWICH_SR_14/2/12'Pompey vs Ipswich at Fratton Park.''Fans protest in the Fratton End.''Picture:Steve Reid (120536-005)
120536-943_POMPEY_IPSWICH_SR_14/2/12'Pompey vs Ipswich at Fratton Park.''Fans protest in the Fratton End.''Picture:Steve Reid (120536-005)
Nathan Thompson played in a central midfield role against Scunthorpe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Rotherham v Pompey: pre-match talking points

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So Portpin has pulled out. Does that mean Balram Chainrai has no more involvement with PFC?

No. Balram Chainrai still holds a charge over Fratton Park, which previous owners Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) was supposed to buy from him as part of the deal when he sold Pompey to them in June 2011.

But they defaulted, so Mr Chainrai kept his legal hold over the stadium, and used that power to put Pompey into administration in January this year.

That means that anyone wanting to buy Pompey will have to negotiate with Chainrai over how much he’ll accept for the stadium.

If he asks too high a price, and no-one can afford it, Pompey would be in serious trouble.

So that means the Pompey Supporters’ Trust have to work with Mr Chainrai to get full control of the club?

In a nutshell, yes. The trust and Portpin have been circling each other like tired Olympic boxers for the last few months, neither side willing to let the other take control.

On Mr Chainrai’s side, it was because he knew he’d have to accept a low price for the stadium. On the trust’s side it was because they didn’t trust that Mr Chainrai had the club’s best interests at heart.

Now what happens is the trust and Portpin have to liaise through the club’s administrators, PKF, to come to some sort of agreement, while trying to ensure Pompey’s many creditors get the best deal they can.

So what’s being done on that score?

Well, quite simply, PKF’s Trevor Birch is urging both Portpin and the trust to meet sooner rather than later to thrash out a deal.

Can the courts, for example, force Portpin to accept the trust’s deal?

It’s up to the administrators and the courts to try and get the best outcome for creditors as possible.

If the trust’s £2.75m offer to Balram Chainrai in return for him relinquishing his charge of the stadium is rejected, and there are no other bidders, it would be down to Mr Birch to try and make a compromise.

However, if no compromise could be reached then the court can force Mr Chainrai to accept the deal and cut his losses.

After all, the alternative would be for the club to be liquidated, and then Mr Chainrai would only get a fraction of what he’s owed.

So does all that mean Mr Chainrai owns Fratton Park?

No. What it means is, back in the day he lent a hard-up Pompey owner some money, and in return Fratton Park was offered as security – a bit like a mortgage, where the bank has your house as security in case you can’t pay the money back.

That hard-up Arab – Ali al-Faraj – couldn’t pay, and after a bit of legal jiggery-pokery, Balram Chainrai exercised his right, as someone with a legal charge over the stadium, to put the company that runs Pompey into administration in order to stop it incurring more debts, to reduce its existing debt, and finally to sell it so he could get his money back.

He managed to do that, and sold the club in June 2011 to CSI.

What happened then, apparently, is though CSI would have been able to pay Portpin every penny in return for the club, Portpin wanted to be paid in instalments – and retained the stadium as security.

CSI itself went into administration after its owner Vladimir Antonov was arrested over bank fraud – a charge he denies – and Chainrai once again put Pompey into administration.

What happens in administration is that every aspect of the club and its assets is controlled by the administrator and his team, not by Mr Chainrai.

Will Saturday’s first home game of the season take place?

Yes. As long as there are enough players to field a team, there is no reason why the match can’t take place.

It is Trevor Birch’s job to keep the company running, as long as it can do so without sinking into debt, in order to try and make money for the creditors.

What about the players who generously agreed to leave early? Will they still get the money they are owed, no matter how little?

Yes. The players were always going to be paid directly using the parachute payments from the Football League, which add up to about £8.5m of the £11m payments.

There’s also a pot of around £3m in the club’s accounts that’ll be for the new owners, whoever they are, to use.

The only fly in the ointment, should the Pompey Supporters’ Trust take over, is that it has to pay Portsmouth City Council back its £1.45m it borrowed to fund its bid to take over the club, and to pay for the club’s ample running costs.

But that’s a matter for the trust and PKF to thrash out together with the Football League.

So how much is the stadium worth?

The pedants would say it’s worth as much as anyone will pay for it.

Realistically speaking, though, Mr Chainrai is owed £18m, or thereabouts, so he wants as much of that back via the sale of the stadium and the club’s assets as possible.

The Land Registry, however, values Fratton Park at around £7.5m, and it’s believed that Mr Chainrai is reflecting that valuation in his most recent asking price of £8m.

To go back to the mortgage analogy, however, when a bank repossesses a property. it sends it to auction in order to recover as much of its debt as possible.

Mr Chainrai realistically has no other option but to do that, and there’s a limit to how long Pompey can last with no owner.

What do you mean? Pompey could still fold?

Yes. If the club can no longer continue to operate without causing more debt, the administrator will be forced to liquidate.

That would effectively mean Pompey is no more, and the football team would have to start again as a community team, playing sub-conference football.

Some fans have voiced their desire to see a phoenix club emerge from the ashes, without the shackles of debt, a beleaguered history, and zero involvement from any former owner from 1998 onwards.

That’s all well and good, and AFC Wimbledon has proved it can be done.

The trouble is, if that were to happen huge numbers of local creditors would lose out.

They might only be looking at getting a portion of their money back, but a portion is better than nothing

Ah yes, the creditors. Now, Mr Chainrai said some players and former managers had ramped up the amount of money they said they were owed. How can they do that?

Over the course of an administration, creditors’ accountants and various other people can go back through the financial records of their clients and make sure every last penny is accounted for.

For example, last time Pompey was in administration, by the time the final creditors numbers were filed, Qatar Airways had managed to find 20p it was owed.

The airline never managed to explain to The News how it was owed 20p, but nevertheless it was included in that CVA, which means it is technically still owed 1p.

So how much have they increased their amounts by?

That’s a little tricky to say. It appears that, apart from Kanu, neither the trust nor PKF was aware of any increased level of debt owed to the others – Richard Hughes, Michael Brown, and David Lampitt.

What happens now is when PKF get the trust and Portpin around a conference table, that issue – and the others brought up in Portpin’s exhaustive statement – will be discussed.

The details of those extra claims will be made clear to Pompey’s other creditors at the next creditors’ meeting, the date of which is to be announced.

What about the land around Fratton Park, owned by Sacha Gaydamak?

An interesting question. Sacha’s land is very valuable to a would-be owner of Pompey, because it would mean the land could be used to complement the stadium –whether being used as retail outlets or other uses.

I know we’re talking pie in the sky, but in the future, if there’s some money knocking around, it’d be vital to own that land if the stadium were to be redeveloped.

If it’s so valuable, why, then, hasn’t someone come in to do a deal with both?

There are rumours flying around of a third party being interested in buying Pompey, including rumours that Harry Redknapp and Peter Storrie would be making a bid.

There doesn’t seem to be any weight to those rumours, according to PKF.

Pompey requires a huge amount of investment to 
pull it, kicking and screaming, into 21st century football.

The stadium needs investment, the staff need bolstering, and the stadium and land would need plans to pull them back together under one owner.

Add to that the pain of negotiating with both Balram Chainrai and 
Sacha Gaydamak, as well as having to service the club’s debts and try and win the fans’ trust... whoever takes that on can only be described as a brave person, or someone who’s willing to do it as a labour of love for a club they care about a great deal.

So hang on, I’ve pledged £1,000 for the trust’s bid, but so far have only handed over £100. When am I going to be asked for the rest?

As soon as Trevor Birch accepts the trust’s bid, fans who have pledged their £1,000 stake will be asked to pay the full amount.

But I’ve got the car to MoT - when is this likely to happen?

Don’t worry, the trust says it will begin collecting the money between September and December, so there’s a little time yet.

So if that’s what’s happening in September, what’s going to happen right now?

It’s a question of waiting to see the outcomes of the three-way meetings between PKF, Portpin and PST.

Until then, the only 
thing any fan can do is to prove they are indeed one 
of the best fans in the 
world and throw their 
weight behind their 
club, their manager, and 
urge the team to Play Up Pompey.