By Nick Harris
20 February 2010
The Premier League has made a U-turn on a decision to allow Portsmouth to sell players because of fears the south-coast club might manage to avoid administration and avoid relegation party because of a measure initially intended to ensure their very survival.
Fifa, football’s world governing body, had already agreed that it would have no objections to allowing Portsmouth to sell players outside the transfer window. And as sportingintelligence reported on Thursday evening, at that stage the League were minded to support Portsmouth’s application to sell players. But following objections from a number of a rival clubs that Portsmouth might avoid administration altogether if allowed to sell players, the League had a re-think and decided not to allow player sales “at this time”.
The option remains on the table if Portsmouth’s existence continues to be threatened. The League had initially believed Portsmouth would voluntarily go into administration as part of a package of rescue measures to keep the club alive. But Portsmouth had not made such an explicit promise, and the League, wary it could be handing a competitive advantage to Portsmouth, changed its mind.
A League statement issued this morning said: “The Premier League board can confirm they have been actively considering a request from Portsmouth to transfer players outside of the transfer window. We are grateful for positive assistance from Fifa and the FA but, having given the matter further consideration and taking into account all factors, the Premier League board have decided that this would not be an appropriate course of action at this time.”
Portsmouth face a winding-up order in the High Court on 1 March over debts of almost £12m to HMRC, which form part of overall debts of around £60m. The club is actively seeking new owners.