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FootballNewsExclusive: Portsmouth administrator reveals total debt is £100m, and says football needs ‘reality check’

Exclusive: Portsmouth administrator reveals total debt is £100m, and says football needs ‘reality check’

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By Nick Harris

25 March 2010

EXCLUSIVE

The administrator at financially stricken Portsmouth has told sportingintelligence today that the ailing club’s total debt stands at £100m, much higher than the £60m widely reported or the £85m cited in a few places.

“The club has got £85m of unsecured creditors, and then [former owner] Balram Chainrai’s  secured debts are in the region of £14m to £15m, so it’s £100m in total, as near as damn it,” Andrew Andronikou told us this morning.

In a message intended to soothe concerns of fans about the future but make plain that the club will make drastic changes to the playing squad in the coming months, Andronikou told sportingintelligence:

  • That one would-be saviour for the club, Rob Lloyd, a property developer who once appeared on Channel 4’s ‘Secret Millionaire’ “has not got any further forward” with takeover plans that Lloyd claims will involve an as-yet unnamed super-rich British backer.
  • That Andronikou sees his role as introducing “stability after salvation” and that he wants to help introduce a “reality check” into English football by re-organising Portsmouth’s finances so they don’t spend more than they earn for the foreseeable future.
  • That Andronikou sees Chainrai as a possible long-term owner of the club, even though Chainrai himself doesn’t.
  • That Andronikou’s plan is for the club to exit administration by CVA before the summer.

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On Wednesday, the Premier League gave Portsmouth dispensation to sell players to raise funds on certain conditions, most importantly that any player sold (or pre-sold) must not play for another Premier League club this season

Andronikou told sportingintelligence: “That doesn’t mean we’re suddenly going to flog the whole team, or even that we need to, immediately. The most important thing is we’ve had the concession given to us to do so, if we want.

“We’re not necessarily going to sell all our players and I don’t want to alarm the fans. Having said that, we’re a Premier League that’s going to be Championship club and the priority is to safeguard the club.”

On Lloyd’s interest in the club, he added: “Noises are still being made but he’s not gone any further forward [with his proposal]. We’ll see where it goes. There are multiple parties looking at the club, and I don’t know at this stage if any of them will be suitable. My plan is to exit administration by way of a CVA, and my target is to help Portsmouth do things properly in future.

“The company’s overheads need to fit into a Championship model, to make sure the company pays its way not just next season but the season after that. I am not making any plans on the basis that a rich new owner will come along. At this point that doesn’t look likely and nor would it necessarily be a good thing if Portsmouth got into trouble all over again.”

Asked specifically if Chainrai could become the owner again, in a post-CVA environment with the club’s debts massively diminished, Andronikou said: “If there is no suitable purchaser, that will be the case . . . That’s my safety net. I’m not going to be pressurised into a quick deal, Portsmouth needs the right deal. My remit is to stabilise the club and secure an investor but I don’t agree that a sugar daddy is sensible.

“Football needs a reality check and clubs need to cut it cloth. I hope we’ve achieved salvation at Portsmouth and now the aim is stability.”

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