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Dec 13, 2012

Portsmouth court hearing postponed

A crucial court hearing into the sale of Portsmouth's Fratton Park ground has been postponed amid a row over who should manage the club's finances during its administration period.

The hearing, due to have taken place at the High Court in London this week, is vital to the Portsmouth Supporters' Trust (PST) bid to take over the League One club.

Fratton Park is controlled by former Portsmouth owner Balram Chainrai's Portpin company, the largest creditor in the administration process. Portpin is owed around £12 million by the club, which has debts of more than £60 million, and the company holds a fixed charge over Fratton as security.

That means administrators PKF have had to apply for a court hearing - scheduled to conclude later this week - to determine whether permission can be gained for the ground to be sold at the market rate. The trust has offered £2.75 million for it - an offer which has been turned down.

But on Thursday another party, P&A Partnership, claimed Portpin wanted it, not PKF, to manage the club's finances until a buyer was found.

Brendan Guilfoyle, of P&A, said Portpin was unhappy with parts of they way in which PKF had been handling matters on the South Coast and could shut Pompey down if it did not secure a change of administrator.

"If I am appointed, I am confident that we can find a buyer to secure the long-term future of this historic and important club,'' Guilfoyle said.

A statement from P&A said Portpin had made cash available to allow Portsmouth to continue trading - but only on the condition that Guilfoyle was appointed as administrator.

Guilfoyle, who said the club had "become a lot more saleable in the last six months", said he believed PKF had asked for the court hearing to be postponed.

He said Portpin wanted him to ensure that, if the PST bid - described by the Football League as having "significant merit" - did not succeed, other potential buyers could be found.

"Portpin don't feel the club has been fully marketed and they don't want it liquidated if it can't be sold to PST,'' he added.

"They will fund the continuation of the club until the end of the season as long as the court involve me and I can be given an opportunity to find a new buyer."

He said Portpin believed "the options presented, either a sale to PST or closure, need broadening" and added: "If the court decided the sale to the supporters should go through, I wouldn't have any role.

"They [Portpin] feel the whole deal with PST is prejudicial to their interests, and they're not happy with the administrators."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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