Pompey can avoid the drop – Grant

Avram Grant is convinced Portsmouth still have what it takes to

survive in the Premier League, despite a resounding 4-1 home defeat

to Arsenal.

Pompey issued a statement on Wednesday denying the club had

been formally served with a winding up petition by Her Majesty’s

Revenue and Customs in relation to disputed VAT, PAYE and National

Insurance contributions of a reported £3.5million.

While that matter may yet be resolved in a High Court hearing

early next month to avoid administration,

Pompey continue to operate under a transfer embargo imposed

by the Premier League and face an uphill battle to save themselves

from relegation. Sections of the Fratton Park faithful chanted

“Where’s all our money gone?” and vented their anger towards owner

Ali Al Faraj as chants of “Sack the board” and “You’re not fit to

run a club” rang out around the ground.

The substitution of captain Aaron Mokoena was also cheered

but former Chelsea boss Grant insists all is not lost.

“When we get onto the pitch the players are trying to do

their best. I know the board are trying their best,” he said. “I

hope to have some funds [in January].

“Even if it’s a difficult situation, the team can stay in the


“One month ago we were seven points off safety, now we are

four, but we need to do something.

“I feel the supporters are behind us and they are good for

the team.

“The fans were here before any player, manager or owner, and

they will stay after, so we need to do our best for the fans.

“I know there are problems off the pitch, but I cannot say

anything about this.

“I have sympathy for the fans. We are trying to do our best

for them. The situation is not easy.”

Portsmouth are set to lose several players to the African

Nations Cup, including goalscorer Nadir Belhadj, while there are

reports the club could be forced to sell key men like England

goalkeeper David James to stay afloat.

However, Grant said: “All the players in the team need to

stay and I think the board know that.

“From the football side we need the players to stay and we

need to make the team stronger.

“I know what the team needs to stay in the league and I’m

sure we can do that.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had sympathy for Portsmouth’s

plight on a day when it was announced Roman Abramovich has all but

wiped out Chelsea’s £340million debt by turning an

interest-free loan into shares.

Wenger said: “Professional football is about winning and

balancing the budget.

“That is the basic rule and one which I fought for. All the

rest is half cheating.

“I don’t speak about what has happened here, but that is what

I am for.

“For every club it has to be the same, for Chelsea, for

everybody. I always pleaded for financial fair play.”