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Jan 5, 2010

Fresh doubts over Portsmouth as players not paid again

Portsmouth's financial plight has been cast into further doubt as their players have not been paid on a deadline previously given by the club.

Wages were not released on Tuesday despite assurances the players would be paid on that date - the third time the players have not received their pay packets on time.

Earlier this season, ESPN Soccernet reported the extent of Portsmouth's debts and now can reveal the latest twist in the cash-flow crisis gripping the Premier League club.

The December salaries should have been paid on the last Thursday of December, but the Christmas salaries were not forthcoming. The club then issued a statement insisting that the wages would be paid on Tuesday.

A source inside Fratton Park told ESPN Soccernet on Tuesday: "We thought the money for the players' wages would be sorted out yesterday, and then we thought it would be sorted out today, and we hope it will be sorted out tomorrow."

Those still waiting for their money, though, will be becoming increasingly concerned about late payments and the PFA is sure now to intervene.

The players, in theory, can issue a 14-day notice to their club and walk out as free agents, but the PFA is sure to advise that they give Pompey every opportunity to pay the December wages.

If the club still believe it is possible to pay the wages on Wednesday or indeed before their next match, the players are likely to hold off serving any notice to quit.

According to ESPN Soccernet's sources, there were a series of frantic meetings and discussions ongoing all day as the new Saudi owner has made every attempt to find a short-term loan to honour the commit to pay the players.

However, patience may be wearing thin as this is the third pay delay in a row and there is a significant difference this time in that, on the previous two occasions, the wages were paid on the day the club specified it would come through.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has already expressed his shock that this is happening at a club in the English top flight.

The Premier League is now likely to divert the January TV cash of £7.5 million directly to the three clubs owed money: Spurs, Chelsea and Watford.

But while the club are battling to refinance for the medium- to long-term - and insiders told ESPN Soccernet that many potential deals were in the pipeline - the club have two pressing issues.

Besides the players' wages, they have an HM Revenue & Customs winding-up order to contest, which the club insist will be sorted out before the court date.

But failure to pay the players on time, and now missing their own deadline to rectify the problem, is sure to increase tensions that other deadlines to make repayments might also be missed - and that administration might soon become reality.

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