Portsmouth Football Club set 19 April court deadline

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport
Fratton Park

Administrators of Portsmouth say the case to decide the club's future will be heard by 19 April at the latest.

Administrators PKF were at the High Court on Thursday to set a date for the hearing to force the sale of Fratton Park to the Pompey Supporters' Trust.

But PKF confirmed there was an ambiguity with correspondence between former owners Portpin and the Football League that would need clarifying.

They hope to confirm a specific date in the next few days.

The Football League themselves released a statement on Thursday saying their position had not changed and they would not consider any offer other than that of the PST.

"As stated after its most recent meeting, the Board of The Football League is not considering alternative applications for the transfer of Portsmouth's share in The Football League," said the statement.

"Instead, it remains focused on a successful transfer of share to the preferred bidder, the Pompey Supporters' Trust."

Pompey have been in administration since February 2012 and are said to be around £61m in debt.

The preferred bidders, Pompey Supporters' Trust, have been approved by the Football League as well as the club's creditors.

But the Trust's takeover is conditional on the group taking control of the club's Fratton Park stadium.

The club's former owner Balram Chainrai believes he is owed £12m by Pompey and holds the stadium as security through his company Portpin via a fixed charge.

The PST had offered Chainrai £3m for the ground but the Hong Kong businessman has so far refused to sell while the Football League have warned they must exit administration before the end of the season or they face expulsion.

Thursday's advisory hearing finally went ahead after the initial hearing in December was adjourned and three subsequent postponements followed.

"We are pressing ahead with the case that is seeking the court's consent for the disposal of Fratton Park to the PST," said a statement from administrators PKF.

"The court has this morning confirmed that the case will be heard by 19 April at the latest, which will enable us to meet the Football League's deadline for the sale of the club, subject to a favourable ruling. We hope that, in the next few days, the court will be able to set a specific date for this hearing.

"The court was also made aware that correspondence has been exchanged between the Football League and Portpin which seems to lead to some ambiguity with the League's previous public statements that no other bid would be considered at this late stage.

"We will be seeking clarification from the League as a matter of urgency."

Pompey were the subject of a late offer from football financier Keith Harris, but the League clarified on Thursday what they have twice said previously that they supported the PST.

And PST spokesman Colin Farmery says their own correspondence with the League has made that clear to them.

"Ambiguity is probably a good word to use," Farmery told BBC Radio Solent.

"Our understanding is that the Football League has been very clear on two occasions that at this late stage they will not consider any other bid in order to transfer the share.

"It was an interesting development and at Pompey we always expect the unexpected.

"PKF obviously want to clear this matter up and I am not party to correspondence between the Football League and Portpin.

"From the Trust perspective our conversations with the Football League have been very clear on this point and we see no reason why that would have changed."

They later released a statement adding "'We are pleased our bid is proceeding. As presented in court today our bid is fully funded and ready to go and we hope a date can be found in the near future to resolved this matter so the Trust can start the job of rebuilding the club.

'The Football League has also cleared up any confusion by making it clear for a third time that it will only consider a bid from PST."

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