England

Portsmouth fans to take over club

Fratton Park
Portsmouth supporters are expected to take control of the third-tier club.
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Pompey Supporters Trust has pledged to transform Portsmouth into a club the city can be proud of.

An agreement was reached in the High Court on Wednesday allowing them to take control at Fratton Park.

Portsmouth have become the biggest fan-owned club in the country after it was announced in the High Court that the club's administrators BDO had agreed a settlement deal with Portpin, a holding company run by former club owner Balram Chainrai, Levi Kushnir and Deepak Chainrai, who controlled Fratton Park.

Portpin had placed a value of £10million on the club's stadium, while Pompey Supporters Trust had bid £3million and without a compromise agreement the fans' attempts to complete a takeover would have been dashed.

Trust chairman Ashley Brown said: "This is a historic day for Portsmouth Football Club and for Pompey fans everywhere.

"At last, the tough work done over the last year is over and we can start to rebuild our club.

"Pompey fans are now days away from owning and running our club and becoming the biggest community owned football club in the country.

"We have a lot of people to thank, and much more to say, but will do that once the details of today's settlement are finalised.

"For now, we would like to offer heartfelt thanks to Pompey fans all over the world who have pledged money and have saved our club from liquidation.

"Now the next chapter of hard work begins to transform our club into something the community of Portsmouth can be proud of, both on and off the field."

Administrators BDO had to go to the High Court to get permission to sell Fratton Park against Portpin's wishes and to get a judgement on how much the stadium should be sold for.

But Wednesday night Portpin and BDO began settlement talks which continued into this afternoon and a settlement was reached to allow PST to take control of the club just after 3pm.

A High Court judge had been due to analyse issues relating to the sale of the ground, but lawyers told judge Mr Justice Peter Smith that an agreement had been reached between BDO and the club's former owner.

The judge said he was pleased that an agreement had been reached and that Portsmouth would be preserved.

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Fans who had travelled to the High Court from the south coast applauded and cheered when the hearing ended.

Iain McInnes, the prospective chairman of PFC said: "If you believe you can do something you can - and we have."

Trust director Mark Trapani, a Portsmouth car dealership boss, said the club would become Portsmouth Community Football Club Ltd.

"I think there will be clubs around the country that will look at what we have done and probably say 'this is the way forward'," he said.

"For me this is a greater day than the day Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008. That was one day. This is the future. The fans should see it like that too."

Mr Justice Peter Smith, who said he was a Hull fan, had told the court the agreement would enable the trust to take control.

"I'm very pleased that the parties have agreed provisions which will preserve the club," he said. "On we go with the last three games."

Trevor Birch, a BDO partner and a joint administrator of Portsmouth, said outside court: "We were appointed to secure the best deal for creditors and today's developments enable us to fulfil that obligation."

He added: "The past year has been incredibly challenging for everyone involved with the club - fans, staff and players - and I want to thank them all for their support.

"They deserve credit for keeping Portsmouth Football Club alive despite what, at times, seemed like insurmountable obstacles and I'm sure that their actions will inspire supporters' groups at other clubs."

Portsmouth, who have been in administration twice in three years and relegated from the Barclays Premier League to npower League One during that period, are currently third from bottom in the third tier and face relegation to League Two as they face a further 10-point deduction.

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