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Dec 30, 2009

Portsmouth to fight winding-up order

ESPN Soccernet can reveal that Portsmouth plan to take out an injunction against the decision by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to issue them with a winding-up order.

The petition was reported to have been presented on December 23, with a full court hearing due in February. And if Portsmouth were unable to strengthen their financial position by then, the club could be declared bankrupt.

The club have issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and a Portsmouth insider has revealed that the club feel victimised.

"In my view I don't see this club being wound up, and the club plan to fight the Revenue on this," the source told ESPN Soccernet.

"The new owners have cleared the old Revenue and VAT debts of around £12 million, and the current debts with them are only around £3 million.

"I know for a fact that there are lot of clubs way behind in their PAYE but we are now only one month behind. They are picking on us and we shall soon be issuing a statement to make it clear that we are now only talking about current debt to the Revenue and that we are contesting the VAT with an injunction.

"It is outrageous that we have been fighting our debts for so long, that the Revenue now issue a winding up order against us, as they did on December 23."

A statement from the club has confirmed that they will be taking action against HM Revenue and Customs.

Portsmouth Football Club has not been formally served with a winding up petition and is shocked and surprised this action has been taken in respect of VAT, PAYE and National Insurance Contributions which either have been, or are about to be paid, or are disputed," the statement read. "The club is disputing the VAT amount outstanding and has formally notified HMRC of this. We expect HMRC to withdraw their demands forthwith. Otherwise we anticipate a hearing being held in early January 2010 during which we will request that the High Court order HMRC to withdraw their demands.

"Since the takeover by Ali Al Faraj in October 2009, extreme efforts have been made to reach payment arrangements with HMRC to allow the owner time to deal with inherited debt. To date the new owner has injected a total of £9.7 million of new funds to HMRC - £5.7 million paid and security to the value of £4 million.

"In such a tough economic environment the club finds it hard to understand this action by HMRC. It is well known that the business has been in a difficult position following former owners' decisions and the current owner is committed to resolving this and moving forward.

The club have endured a traumatic year and speculation has continued to mount that they could be the subject of a third takeover bid in less than six months.

Pompey also hit the headlines when they failed to pay their players for a second time in as many months at the start of December, and the club are currently operating under a transfer embargo because of their financial problems.

The next wage bill of £1.8 million is due on Thursday without anyone sure that it will arrive on time, or be paid in part. ESPN Soccernet understands the club are pushing hard to make sure they meet their deadline of paying the wages this month, but it is by no means certain.

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