Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Meanwhile on Planet Pompey

Posted by John Beech on October 15, 2010

Or is that two different planets?

Latest development is that the Football League has again declined to return the club share (1).  The statement from the club says:

Following a meeting of The Football League Board today, Portsmouth Football Club have been informed that the League are not yet able to approve the transfer of The Football League share to the club.

The League have indicated to the club that there are four further requirements that need to be satisfied.

The club will now take time to consider the feedback from the meeting ahead of further discussions with The Football League.

No indication then of what exactly the ‘four further requirements’ are – bureaucratic detail or major stumbling blocks?

The response from Administrator Andrew Andronikou has been a tad less considered than the club website might suggest if one goes with the report in local newspaper The News (x):

Pompey’s administrator fears the club could go out of business after the Football League refused to allow it out of administration.

Andrew Andronikou said it was now ‘virtually impossible to keep trading as a club’.

And he said it could see potential owner Balram Chainrai walking away from Pompey.

Meanwhile Manager Steve Cotterill preferred the emotive approach, telling BBC Radio Solent: “We need to blow some of these dark clouds away from this club. We’ve had them over us for more than 12 months now.  Let somebody else have the spotlight for a while. We’ve been under it perhaps for the wrong reasons, and lots of people want to throw mud at you.  When you haven’t got a lot to bat back with, some of that mud will stick.” (x)

All this, especially Andonikou’s dire warnings of the virtual impossibility of continuing to trade, made the next report to emerge from The News strange reading (x).  Far from planning the demise of the club, recruitment to strengthen the ‘threadbare squad’ is being planned.  On the club website latest news is of ticket sales.  Plans are pressing ahead to create a ‘noisy section’ to enhance the Fratton Roar (x).

Whether it’s ‘teetering on the brink’ or ‘business as usual’ is thus far from clear.  And before anyone adds a comment, it does of course have to be said that these two have seen little daylight between them for far too long at Fratton Park.

In terms of a necessity for change, time is still on the club’s side in the sense that they can go until the end of the season as they are without suffering further points deduction.  The possibility of Balram Chainrai giving up on the club is a far more worrying proposition.  On the one hand, he is unlikely to unless he is prepared to write off a large amount of money.  On the other, the Football League may be wanting to push him into further commitments he isunwilling to make.

If Andronikou is to be believed, there is no alternative to Chainrai, no John W Henry or Peter Lim about to enter the mêlée – hardly surprising, as Adronikou seems to be saying that the club is still not operating solvently.

One of my correspondents suggests that we may be heading for a repeat of the Leeds United scenario, with a further points deduction for not following Football League rules on clubs entering administration.  I certainly have my concerns, but Chainrai is looking to rid himself of the club, unlike Ken Bates, who proved a role model of tenacity-to-retain which must have proved an inspiration to Tom Hicks.

An interesting development has been reported by Accountancy Age: “HMRC has “invited” the administrators of Portsmouth City FC to give their opinion on what “stance” they take on the football creditors rule.” (x)  This relates to HMRC’s upcoming court challenge against the Leagues, although Accountancy Age suggests that UHY Hacker Young are unlikely to attend court.

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Coincidentally, the performance of Administrators in general was earlier this week raised by BBC Radio 4’s File on 4, although this was not specifically related to football and I stress that I am not in any way casting aspersions on the conduct of Portsmouth’s.

The programme raised worrying issues however to do with the lack of transparency and the potential for conflicts of interest for insolvency practitioners.  If they are, as the programme suggests, poorly regulated, put that together with the poor record of transparent regulation in football, and it makes a heady cocktail.  How much longer can the governing bodies just sit back as the likes of Portsmouth and Liverpool unravel so publicly?

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UPDATE TO MAIN STORY – 15 October 2010

New statement from the club website (A):

Portsmouth Football Club can confirm that agreement in principle has now been reached between the Administrators, prospective new owners and The Football League over the four further requirements that were notified yesterday, and that need to be satisfied before the transfer of The Football League share to the club can be approved.

The necessary additional documentation is now being worked on so that the transfer of The Football League share can take place once these conditions have been fulfilled.

This will then allow the sale of the club by the Administrators to the new owners, at which point Pompey will exit administration.

Portsmouth Football Club would like to thank supporters for their patience, steadfastness and loyalty as the club look to complete this complex process over the coming days.

Here’s hoping!

One Response to “Meanwhile on Planet Pompey”

  1. Worrying to read that the club is stil not solvent. Administrators have a great record of transferring football clubs to solvent positions which outlines the mess that Pompy must have gotten themselves into

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