Date: 18th February 2010 at 11:53pm
Written by:

BBC5live held at Moneyfields on 18th February. The Session started at 7.00pm.

The room was full and there was a Pompey Supporters Trust Banner at the back of the room and some Supporters in the room were wearing Pompey shirts from the 80s. On the Panel was Dr John Beech, Football Finance Expert, Tony Husbands, a BBC Reporter who has been following Pompey over the last 18 months or so, Andy Awford, Captain of the team in 1999 and Steve Claridge, ex player. The panel was presided over by Mark Chapman.

(These are not minutes, I have only picked out the bits that I thought would interest, as most of it was the same old same old that we have been chewing over).

Mark Chapman asked: Where are we tonight? It seems we are waiting to hear if FIFA will open the Transfer Window, just for us. The unanimous opinion from the panel was no, they did not think that this would happen

Steve Claridge was worried that creditors wanted their money back. He said he preferred Voluntary Administration as opposed to liquidation, as we would then at least have a club. The Football Finance Expert John Beech said he thought Chainrai would go right to the hours before the Court Hearing and would then apply for voluntary administration. He said he would do this so as to be able to keep control of the club for as long as possible.

Someone mentioned that they thought it ironic that we were at a venue called Moneyfields and that there was a pub called the Jolly Taxpayer just around the corner…….

Mark Chapman said that we were going to be made a scapegoat for the Premier League by HMRC who was fed up with football clubs. Andy Awford pointed out that we were to receive a £20m payment from Sky in 14 weeks time. Would it not be a good idea for the prem to vouch payment to HMRC and hold back the money to pay them? John Beech said that it was the court’s view that we were not trading solvently and that they would take a dim view on us using tomorrows money to pay today’s debts. Someone asked how Administration would affect our Sky payments. John Beech said it would make no difference.

Steve Claridge said our troubles started three years ago and he was amazed at the time, at the amount of money being spent on players. Andy Awford said it went back much further than that. He said that in 1999 when Mandaric took over the club we were absolutely debt free. Claridge pointed out that up to the Gaydamak era, the debt was manageable and was acceptable. He said he thought a lot of clubs are (if the owners wanted their money back) in the same position.

Mark Chapman asked where had the FA Cup money gone. According to a recent article by Jamo, it appears that the Bonus structure for winning the cup was such that after the players and management was paid, there was nothing left.

So where has all the cash from the past few years gone? He John Beech said that up until recently the club was trading with figures of 60% and 70% of turnover for wages. He said that this was normal, although 70% was slightly high, but was manageable. He said the problems started when our wages bill rocketed to 91% of turnover in (I think he said 2007). He also said that the club had turned a small profit occasionally under Mandaric.

They then mentioned the main creditors which we all know and then said that Gaydamak had offered Al Fahim the right to buy the land around the stadium after he purchased the club. However, Al Fahim had failed to exercise his right to buy the land and that there had been a time stipulation on it. That time frame had elapsed and that Al Faraj had been unaware of this when he purchased the club.

A local creditor then stood up and said he was owed many many thousands of pounds by PFC. He said that he had done work in the dressing rooms, shower rooms, fire exits, lounges etc. He said that he had phoned and phoned PFC for his money and could never get a response. He said eventually he spoke to Danny Azougy who thrashed out a deal whereby he would be paid monthly over the space of a year. He said that he had got the first months payment in January and had received nothing since. He misguidedly thought that the EPL should pay him because this was work that the EPL had insisted on. However, he was told that as it was PFC that had instructed him, it was PFC who owed him the money.

Tony Husband, the BBC reporter was asked to explain the correlation between the people now involved at PFC. He said that the story was very complicated and explain virtually what we all know anyway. He said that he had been told it was a co-incidence that the same figures at PFC are the ones who were all connected some time ago in various other deals.

Mark Chapman said that they had tried to get someone to come and talk to the meeting. Storrie refused and Mark Jacob was willing to come but PFC stopped him coming saying that he was no longer a trustee and therefore did not represent PFC.

Steve Claridge pointed out that a fortune had been spent on the club in recent years but the infrastructure was still the same as it was when he played for the club. He said the club’s policy had been very short sighted.

Does anybody want to buy Pompey? There was a lot of scepticism amongst the panel. The stadium was now ring fenced in by Gaydamak’s land. The debt etc., etc. It would be better to wait for the club to go into administration from a buyers point of view.

What happens in administration? The administrator would try to keep the club going. If he failed, we would go into liquidation. Other football clubs would be paid first and then players. Not sure who was next, but local creditor way down the list in any event.

Steve Claridge said that Gaydamak had been in a hurry to sell the club and sold to just anybody. He said the Prem should have stepped in at that point.

Azougy was asked, when he attended Court, who he was representing. He answered, he wasn’t sure.

Steve Claridge said that Sol Campbell was a disgrace. He said Campbell had made a fortune out of Pompey during his time here and that the money he is suing for is peanuts to him. He said it was sheer greed.

The media was blamed partly for the negative coverage of the club during the past 18 months. Tony Husbands said that the media was not responsible for the Pompey’s plight. He said the media had reported the facts over the past year and that it had been refuted every time by the club.

What happens if we go bust? John Beech said that after much sweating up until the 1st March, Chainrai must be hoping to get a buyer, which John Beech thought was hopeless.

Can we trade solvently? John Beech doubted it.

Administration looks the likely outcome.

When the audience was asked if they would forgo the FA Cup for stability now, 70% voted yes, they would. One bright spark in the audience shouted he would let us know after the 1st March.

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