Portsmouth should be kicked out of the Premier League because of their financial plight, according to Lens president Gervais Martel. The French chief is owed money for the transfers of Nadir Belhadj and Aruna Dindane and says he feels ''cheated''.
Pompey are facing a bleak future as they battle a winding-up petition from HM Revenue and Customs, while the players and staff at the club are facing a third month in which their wages have been delayed. They have debts standing at around £75 million and are behind with installments on the £4.2 million fee for Belhadj, while they failed to fulfill an agreement to buy £4 million-rated Dindane permanently after he had played 11 games of his one-season loan deal.
Martel now feels that Pompey should suffer the same fate as Belgian outfit Mouscron, who have been expelled from the Jupiler League because of their deep financial crisis.
"Portsmouth should be treated like Mouscron," Martel is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. "We can't go on like this with clubs who don't pay their debts. Portsmouth have problems with all the clubs they've bought players from. We feel cheated."
Meanwhile, the Premier League has put into place contingency plans to divert from Portsmouth the £7.5 million TV installment due in the first week of the New Year directly to Spurs, Chelsea and Watford - although no cash will go to Lens.
The Premier League are insisting that the domestic clubs owed money by Pompey are given priority, and have alerted Portsmouth to the plan to divert the cash to the other clubs.
ESPN Soccernet contacted the Premier League which issued this statement:
"We continue to closely monitor Portsmouth's situation closely and remain in frequent dialogue with the club. Clearly, we hope they settle any issues they have with the HMRC before the court hearing in February."
Pompey are unable to mount any objection and, unless they can satisfy the three clubs in the next few days, or re-negotiate the payments, which seems unlikely, the immediate TV monies due will pay off the debt owed to the three clubs.
However, the Premier League still need guarantees of financial stability at Fratton park before they end the transfer embargo placed upon them. With Avram Grant urgently needing new players, it is increasingly becoming the club's sole option to sell players in January.
Agents have told ESPN Soccernet that there are only two or three players who would raise anything like the sums needed to help Pompey's cause. One agent, who gave an assessment of the players worth anything said: "Younès Kaboul and Kevin-Prince Boateng are two who spring to mind, maybe Belhadj, but the problem is that the clubs know Portsmouth need the money so won't bid high."