Portsmouth goes back to court

BY foxsports • March 1, 2010

Portsmouth faces another court hearing Tuesday because the British government is contesting the Premier League club's right to legal protection from creditors.

The government's revenue and customs authority tried to shut down Portsmouth over unpaid taxes and is challenging the High Court's ruling last week that allowed the club to enter bankruptcy protection.

The latest hearing has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. local time (1030 GMT) Tuesday at the High Court in central London.

Revenue and customs confirmed the hearing but said it was unable to comment further because of the legal status of the case.

Portsmouth became the first English Premier League team to enter administration, as the protection is known, after failing to clear debts of about 70 million pounds ($105 million).

If Portsmouth is denied protected status, the revenue and customs authority would be able to pursue the club over unpaid taxes and could force it out of business.

"We're not unduly worried," court-appointed administrator Andrew Andronikou said. "It's not standard procedure but I'd imagine that HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) are basically crossing their I's and dotting their T's.

"We're expecting the administration to proceed as it was."

Andronikou has said he will cut costs in an effort to keep Portsmouth in business, but the club is almost certainly facing a drop in income whatever happens.

Portsmouth is adrift at the bottom of the standings even before the Premier League has imposed the automatic nine-point penalty for going into administration.

Demotion to the second tier would hit income from broadcast and sponsorship.

New Zealand businessman Victor Cattermole explored the possibility of buying the club last week and becoming its fifth owner this season. He said Monday he still wanted to meet with Andronikou to discuss a possible takeover.

"We're still interested in buying Portsmouth," Cattermole told Sky Sports News. "We still have to carry out due diligence and see what is owed, what is expected to be paid for it, and what the value's going to be once the whole issue of relegation is sorted out."

Portsmouth is deep in trouble after overspending on wages and transfer fees to fund a return to the top flight and a shot at winning trophies.

The 2008 FA Cup was its first major title since 1950 but it spent 55 million pounds ($82.4 million), or 78 percent of its turnover, in salaries that season.

The south coast club has since sold almost an entire squad of top players for fees totaling about 100 million pounds ($150 million).

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