Back from the brink?

Portsmouth Football Club will offer the HMRC £1.8million towards an outstanding VAT bill of £7.5million with the aim of stopping the club from going into administration. A winding-up petition had been sent to the club just before Christmas because of the bill, and the hearing is scheduled for tomorrow at the high court in London.

The hope is that the club is granted more time to find the rest of the money, and to save what according to new owner Balram Chanrai are more than 600 jobs that would be lost should the club be forced into administration. Chanrai took over the club after exploiting a clause in his £17.5million loan deal to previous owner Ali al-Faraj to take 90% of the club’s shares, and now his team are arguing that he needs to time steady the finances.

‘Time is needed so that we can help the club,’ said Chanrai to The Guardian. ‘It is in everyone's interest that this is granted, and we are hopeful. If we are not given time then the future of at least 600 jobs could be under threat. The ¬football club is the second largest employer in Portsmouth.

‘Our objective, now the new owner is in place, is to seek a stay of the winding-up order,’ said chief-executive Peter Storie. ‘We need time for a new buyer to come in and then we will be in a position to pay the Revenue.

‘If the Revenue wind this club up then they will get nothing, and that cannot be the right answer. We're in talks with potential new owners, which would be our fifth owner already this season.’

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