At Home Park last night, Plymouth Argyle comfortably beat a scratch Portsmouth side made up largely of youth team players by three goals to nil in the First Round of this years League Cup. Seldom could such a result have seemed more trivial in comparison with events going on elsewhere at a football club than they did in Devon last night. Portsmouth Football Club has been teetering on the brink for several years now, a story quite brilliantly recanted for us on this site by SJ Maskell, but this morning, with the news that Balram Chainrai and his Portpin company are finally to withdraw their interest in the club, comes the moment at which push comes to shove at Fratton Park.
The story of the summer at Portsmouth FC has been one of a desperate battle to off-load the club of high earning players that were irresponsibly signed after the clubs previous spell in administration. One by one, this has been chipped away at, with the clubs administrator Trevor Birch making frequent dire warnings concerning the fact that the clubs immediate future. The last deadline to pass came at the end of last week, when Liam Lawrence, the last remaining senior player on the books at Fratton Park, finally agreed to leave the club. This was supposed to open the door for Chainrai to buy the club from the administrator, but this morning Chainrai announced – with a statement of near startling petulance – that he would be withdrawing his interest in Portsmouth FC as well. The full statement, which was released to Sky Sports this morning, reads as follows.
Portpin Ltd regrets to announce that it is withdrawing its bid for Portsmouth Football Club. Unfortunately, our efforts to save the club once more from extinction have hit a wall of rejection and lacking co-operation from the administrator and other interested parties. We are not the ones who have caused the club to collapse and we are not the ones to choose PKF as administrators. As history has recorded, we sold the club over a year ago after saving it from liquidation and unfortunately found ourselves again fighting to try and save the club from another liquidation.
Through this administration process over the last six months we have always had the club’s best interest in mind – unlike many parties who were involved in the process. We repeatedly encouraged the administrator to find a new, willing and able buyer to take over the club – unfortunately he was unsuccessful in this job and couldn’t find a buyer despite his promises. Later he approached us to be his safety net to save the club as he couldn’t find a buyer. We agreed in the effort to avoid liquidation of the club. We welcome and will assist anyone, including the supporters trust to try and save the club in the coming days.
At this moment in time, we feel that:
- the negative criticism and lack of support for our takeover by the fans of this club.
- the fact that the administrators do not want to compromise on their unrealistic fees.
- the fact that suddenly the club has received additional huge football creditors’ claims from former players and management such as Hughes, Brown, Kanu, and Lampitt and more.
- the fact that all the money from the parachute payment which were supposed to carry the club for the next two seasons was spent and committed by the administrator on players’ compromises and fees : total £12million.
- the fact that the Football League has decided to deduct 10 points for no reasonable reason and by its decisions didn’t show any willingness to help in saving this troubled club.
- the fact that the supporters’ trust which we met and we voiced our support for their takeover bid could not raise the funds to satisfy the administrator or the Football League and the loan that was promised them by the council had unrealistic terms.
- the fact that the club did not get any real support from any official they were all very good at creating headlines.
- and finally the last straw yesterday afternoon the manager told the press before the season starts that he is sure of another relegation.
All of these facts have left us in a position that we no longer want to fight this battle, we have zero support to save the club therefore we formally withdraw our bid and our honest attempt at saving the club. We will sleep well knowing we did our utmost to save the club. We welcome and will assist anyone, including the supporters trust to try and save the club in the coming days.”
Nothing ever seems to be anybody’s fault these days, does it? There has never been any belief amongst Portsmouth supporters that Portpin has been involved at Fratton Park for any reason other than its own gain and their departure from the club will be regretted by few. This decision does, however, now very much change the situation with regard to saving the club. The Portsmouth Supporters Trust (PST) is now the only bid on the table for it and, while the news website headlines screaming that Portsmouth FC is “ON THE BRINK” may be saying what they are saying in the way that they are saying in order to lure readers to click through to their sites, it is true to say that this could turn out to be a game-changer for the future of the club. The Trust has raised £3m in pledges from supporters with £1m on deposit already but had to request a bridging loan from Portsmouth City Council for £1.45m, which was approved last week.
The pressure group SOS Pompey, meanwhile, has already issued a response to the Portpin statement:
We have today been advised that Balram Chainrai and his company Portpin have withdrawn their offer to purchase Portsmouth Football Club for a third time, leaving the way clear for the Pompey Supporters Trust to be able to take control of our club.
We call on Mr Chainrai to do the decent thing, and accept the PST offer to purchase his charge on the club, and therefore walk away from Pompey, regaining some of the money he has lost, and leaving the club in the hands of the people who will truly cherish it and ensure that it continues as both a business and a legacy for the future.
SOS Pompey has campaigned for Mr Chainrai to finally leave Pompey, and we hope that this latest news could be the light at the end of the tunnel, which ultimately returns the club to the fans.
Portsmouth FC is the lifeblood of the fans and the city, and we ask all supporters of the club, the people of Portsmouth and football as a whole, to support the work of the Pompey Supporters Trust, in their continued efforts to secure its future. Pledges are still wanted, and both these and donations can be made via www.pompeytrust.com.
SOS Pompey intend to hold a peaceful demonstration of our pride in our manager and players before this Saturday’s game against Bournemouth at 2.15pm at the gates of Fratton Park, and we ask all fans to join us in showing how much we appreciate the work of the manager and staff of our magnificent club.
So this, then is PSTs moment to take control of the destiny of this club. SJ Maskell will be back later with a little more detail with regard to this story but for now, while we wait for the dust to settle and those involved to make their next move, the only thing that we can say is to reiterate the advice that we would give to the supporters of any club in the position in which Portsmouth finds itself today. At a moment in the clubs history which is a now or never moment unlike any seen at even this club before, all supporters must join the PST and pledge whatever they can to it. We are arriving at the make or break moment for this club, and frightening though that may seem, it is also a massive opportunity for the supporters of the club. It is time for all concerned to, as it were, step up to the plate and save Portsmouth Football Club.
SJ Maskell will be back shortly with a little more detail on the last few days and what this mornings announcement means for the club.
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