Swift action needed to save Pompey

STAYING POSITIVE Club chief executive David Lampitt gives the thumbs up during the game against Cardiff which Pompey lost 3-2.  Picture: Allan Hutchings (120240-873)
STAYING POSITIVE Club chief executive David Lampitt gives the thumbs up during the game against Cardiff which Pompey lost 3-2. Picture: Allan Hutchings (120240-873)
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POMPEY fans are today calling for swift action to stop the club from being wiped out.

The taxman is this week set to issue winding-up proceedings against Portsmouth Football Club.

It comes two years after the club narrowly avoided liquidation – and is now fighting to survive a second time.

As revealed in The News on Saturday, the club owes Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) £1.6m after missing two months of PAYE bills.

Pompey may have to sell players to keep the taxman at bay and save itself from being liquidated.

Andrew Andronikou, the joint administrator of the club’s parent company Convers Sports Initiative (CSI) has said the pressure is on to find a buyer to keep the club afloat.

He said HMRC would be seeking to issue a winding-up order this week.

Bill Gillon, from fans’ site, Pompey Online, said: ‘It’s very worrying when we have the taxman asking for money.

‘Getting in a stable owner is what is going to save the club.

‘Over the past three years it has been owner after owner – we thought CSI would be different, but that didn’t work out. We need someone in for the long term to plan to take the club forward.

‘It will take a special person to do that.

‘If the club needs to sell players to do that or even go down a league, then that’s what it will take to keep the club going.’

Meanwhile Colin Farmery, editor of website True Blue Army, said: ‘It’s not a huge surprise given the situation the club is in since CSI went into administration.

‘The club needs to make a clean break with the past and we need a decent owner to do that.

‘Fans are being kicked from pillar to post and someone somewhere needs to make a decisive stand to make sure the club has a brighter future.’

Mr Andronikou said the search for a new owner still continues.

If no buyer comes forward then he said he will have to ask the secured creditors, which include Balram Chainrai, the former owner still owed around £17.5m, if they wish to fund the club.

He said the club ‘effectively ran out of cash at the end of December’.

‘The situation is extremely serious – we’re under extreme pressure to find a buyer,’ he said.

‘Time is against us. The issuing of the petition effectively means the club loses its ability to use its bank accounts.

‘We’re not fazed or worried by it.

‘The club’s debts are not significant, we haven’t got millions and millions of liabilities.

‘We pretty much have two months’ PAYE outstanding.

‘We have about £800,000 a month and we never paid December and the club certainly is not in a position to pay this month so it’s a total of £1.6m. We’re waiting to see what the Revenue will do.

‘They will probably advertise the petition [in the London Gazette] next week.

‘I think there is a hearing date at the end of February.

‘We need to focus on finding a buyer to completing a transaction to raise cash.

‘In terms of working capital and cash it’s only going to come from two sources: a buyer or player sales.

‘We’re working on both.’

Former Bad Company front man Brian Howe has confirmed his interest in taking over.

When The News contacted the Portsmouth-born rock legend he refused to comment on where talks stand.

But he said: ‘Pompey is not just a football club, it’s where most of my childhood memories were formed.

‘My childhood heroes were Pompey players.

‘It’s a thing that can’t be properly described.

‘It’s my team, my city and it deserves a better future.’

The club declined to comment and chief executive David Lampitt not available yesterday.