Portsmouth chairman Iain McInnes hails new era for club

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport at the High Court
Pompey Supporters' Trust celebrate

Incoming Portsmouth chairman Iain McInnes has predicted a bright future for the club, after administrators agreed a deal for the south-coast side.

The deal came just weeks before the Football League's expulsion deadline.

"My overriding emotion is relief. I shed a lot of tears in that court room and hugged a lot of people," McInnes told BBC Sport.

"It was a bit embarrassing but that was the outlet I needed. It's been a long road. Most importantly I'm chuffed for the fans because I am a fan myself."

Iain McInnes committed to saving Portsmouth

After a day of drama at the High Court on Wednesday, administrator BDO revealed it had reached an out-of-court settlement with Portpin to sell the club's Fratton Park stadium.

The Pompey Supporters' Trust's takeover of the club was dependent on its taking control of Fratton Park - which had been controlled by Portpin.

Portpin believed it was owed £12m by the club and held the stadium as security via a fixed charge.

The case had been called in an attempt for BDO to force the release of that fixed charge, but ultimately it was not necessary.

After initial negotiations on Tuesday night, a deal was completed on Wednesday to sell Fratton Park for around £3m plus add-ons, meaning the club is finally rid of former owner Balram Chainrai.

But McInnes says it is important the club now focuses on the future.

"More important than who we've got rid of is who we've got now and that is the Trust who are Pompey fans pledging actual money and not loans," he said.

"I never had any doubts, I always believed we could do it. It was the right bid.

"I believe I am ready to become chairman. That job began some time ago and I've already made plans. Am I ready? Yes. Am I privileged? Yes.

"My message to fans would be 'Look forward to a bright and promising future and remember you are going to play a part in that'."

For joint-administrator Trevor Birch the news brought an end to a saga that had taken its toll on everyone connected to the club.

And Birch revealed he was now aiming for a date of 22 April for the club to exit administration.

It will then be up to the Football League when it deducts the club 10 points.

"I'm completely relieved," Birch told BBC Sport. "It's taken quite a bit out of me personally. It's been a very difficult and complex case.

"It's been hugely frustrating, but at the end of the day it's all been worth it and Pompey are alive and kicking."

The Football League had warned that if Pompey did not exit administration by the end of the season it would remove the club's Golden Share and expel them, and Birch revealed they had been close to extinction several times over the past 14 months.

"You try to divorce yourself from the personal aspect of it. Because I am an officer of the court you have to be independent - but you can't help be satisfied that the club is in the hands of the supporters because it's gone through so much," he added.

"It needs some nurturing and some TLC and who better to dispense that than the supporters?

"They were very close [to being liquidated]."

For Portpin and Chainrai, Wednesday's settlement brings to an end their four-year association with the club - a period that has seen them relegated from the Premier League to League One and enter administration twice with debts of £61m.

"Having worked closely with all parties, we are delighted to have now reached an agreement," Portpin said in a statement.

"This agreement came about due to the good faith displayed by all those involved, working together with one aim in mind: to save Portsmouth Football Club from liquidation. This has now been achieved and we wish the Trust - and the club - all the best in the future."

Pompey will now become the biggest community-owned club in Britain with supporters pledging £1,000 each while several high-net-worth investors are also involved in the bid.

Kevin Rye, spokesman for Supporters Direct, welcomed the news.

"This is of course a fantastic day for the supporters' trust movement, and we think something that football should celebrate as well," he said.

"The work that went into making this possible is extraordinary, and I don't think its significance can be underplayed.

"However what has made this possible at its heart, beyond anything that any one single individual or organisation did alone, is that the fans of the club, and the community of the City of Portsmouth, united to ensure their club can now be in the hands of the people who sustain it."

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