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Oct, 2, 2009

The inside Storrie of Portsmouth's near meltdown

Peter Storrie has opened up the secrets of the Fratton Park boardroom and given ESPN Soccernet the inside story on the extent of the financial mess engulfing the first Premier League club to be threatened with going bust since Leeds United's near-demise during 2003-4.

• PFA chief expresses shock at Pompey demise
• Storrie: there is no money left

ESPN Soccernet can disclose:

• Sulaiman Al-Fahim must pay 30% of his pledged £50m cash injection by Oct 15, and any default would put Pompey on the brink of financial meltdown.

• An interim loan from a rival consortium, associated with present chief executive Peter Storrie, from Ali al-Faray to pay the £1.8m September wage bill, is securitised and Storrie confesses that he does not know what has been used as collateral - and admits it might be the actual club. Pompey are, therefore, on the brink of a second takeover within months of Sacha Gaydamack selling out to Al-Fahim, which would cause more financial complications.

• Two of the world's most high-profile agents, Pini Zahavi and Jonathan Barnett of the Stella Group, are owed close to £3m on their commissions for eight players, including Sulley Muntari, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch, and only Storrie's friendship with them have meant they are not knocking on the door to get their money straight away. Other agents are also owed commissions.

• Pompey have a series of clubs they owe money to, and non-footballing creditors, having already told ESPN Soccernet that the money had run out, until the £5m loan deal he pulled off. That loan will be eaten up by the £1.8 million September wage bill and pressing debts. The October wage bill won't be paid unless Al-Fahim comes up with the promised £15m by mid-October.

• Pompey are in direct contact with the Premier League but assured them that they have yet to reach the stage of financial collapse.

Storrie told ESPN Soccernet: "I have to be truthful and tell you that I don't know if the 30% of the £50m refinancing package will arrive with us in mid-October. I would say that you have the date around about correct, around October 15.

"So the bottom line is the middle to end of October. I really don't know what will happen if that money doesn't come through. All I can tell you, is what I have seen. The documentation is in place, but the proof of whether it is all genuine will be if it turns up. Suliman says that it will, so I have to believe that it will. He believes it, so let's wait and see.

"We have a loan to pay the players' wages for last month, but what has been used as security, I cannot tell you because it has been handled by the lawyers between the two parties, while I have just been the guy doing the introduction.

"If we are talking about the club being used as security, then all I can say is that I genuinely don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me. I persuaded them to help the club. There are people willing to help this club because it is worth saving.

"It is true that we owe a couple of top agents a great deal of money, and if you say it is £3m I can confirm it is not far short of that figure. But there are other agents owed their commissions as well. The two agents you talk about have been incredibly helpful. It is through my friendship with them that they are not banging on the door. Rather they have been really understanding.

"But we have owed money on transfers to a number of clubs, and those clubs have also been extremely helpful. So, it all depends on the refinancing and I don't see it as a deadline necessarily in mid October, but if cannot go on any longer than the end of October, to be realistic. I have been asking people to be patient, but they cannot be expected to be patient for ever.

"The Premier League have been helpful, we've been in touch with them and work closely with them, they are keeping an eye on the situation, but I am keeping them informed. They are aware of all the facts."

With such complexities surrounding so much of their finances and the ownership of the club, Pompey are clearly a Premier League club in danger of going under.

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