Pompey trust can still apply for loan despite pay cuts

Fratton Park
Fratton Park
Connor Ronan. Picture: Joe Pepler

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POMPEY fans aiming to take over at Fratton Park can still seek a council loan – despite the club’s off-field problems worsening.

The News revealed yesterday that staff have been hit with a fresh 10 per cent pay cut as administrators PKF fight to save the business.

Interested party the Pompey Supporters’ Trust were given the green light for a £1.4m loan from Portsmouth City Council last August to form part of its bid.

But despite an ongoing court case over Fratton Park’s valuation, and the latest round of wage cuts, city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said public cash would not be at risk if the loan was handed to the trust.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson told The News: ‘We have to make a judgment about whether public money would be at risk. On one hand the time that the trust would have the loan is less – from February to August – and we know there’s £4m of additional parachute payments coming in over and above what we knew about when the trust made their bid to the council.

‘At the moment the advice is the council’s money would not be further at risk so that we would be able to make the loan.’

He added that the council and trust representatives hold discussions on a regular basis.

Cllr John Ferrett, leader of Portsmouth Labour Party, said: ‘The future liability of the club would be my concern.

‘Things are deteriorating on an almost daily basis. It’s my understanding the trust hasn’t ruled out seeking the loan and it may well be they will come to us.

‘It may well be as a council we have to see the business plan, which will have to be revised.’

Cllr Steve Wemyss, of the Conservative group, said: ‘It’s difficult because many companies are suffering in the economic plight of the country, and the world, at the moment.

‘I have brought things forward to see how we can help the club but there’s security that goes with it.’

Meanwhile a judge yesterday adjourned an extradition hearing for former Pompey owner Vladimir Antonov for nearly six months.

The case against Mr Antonov, which is expected to last nearly two weeks, was adjourned until July 8 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

Mr Antonov, along with his Lithuanian business partner Raimondas Baranauskas, was arrested in November 2011 following an alleged £250m fraud at Snoras bank, of which he was a major shareholder.

It means the hearing could be heard almost 20 months after a European arrest warrant was issued by Lithuanian authorities.