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PFA to ask questions over Portsmouth plight

Professional Footballers' Association senior executive Nick Cusack has said that Portsmouth's financial plight is impacting on the ''integrity'' of the game and will be asking some searching questions when he travels to Fratton Park for high-level talks on Thursday.

Cusack will look into the financing of Pompey and whether the players will be paid on time after three months of delays and will also question the integrity of the matches currently being played by the club in the Premier League.

Cusack told ESPN Soccernet in an exclusive interview: "When two teams take the field, it's 11 versus 11 and you would expect all 22 players to have been paid. If one set of 11 has not then that can call into question the commitment of that team and therefore the integrity of the game itself.

"That in turn puts into question the very integrity of the league, and this is something we plan to raise with the Premier League and with Portsmouth's officials when I go down to the club to speak to the players on Thursday.

"After three months of payments being late, I think the players are entitled to ask questions, the kind of questions everybody in football is asking.''

Cusack admits that the situation has gone on for too long and that the PFA is intent on resolving it as quickly as possible.

"Portsmouth cannot carry on like this,'' he said. ''I am sure the people we are talking to are honourable and want to sort it out, but there is a lack of information about how the club is being run, how the players are being paid and whether they will be paid in the future.

"Our priority is to ensure the players are paid for this month, but because it has been three months now, we must find out whether the players will be in this position next month, and indeed throughout the season.

"I am sure this is concerning the Premier League, too, because we all want to uphold the competitive nature of the league, and I am not sure it can be under these circumstances.

"Contrary to what most people assume, all the players at a club like Portsmouth are not on big money. There is a diverse group there. Yes, there are some hardship cases, which I am not prepared to go into, but I was at Swansea when they went into administration and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it does affect the players.

''Players don't usually say too much about it, but it impacts on their mortgages, their bills and their own obligations. This is not desirable for the players to take these worries onto the pitch.''

In the past, the PFA has bailed out clubs that cannot afford to pay their players, and did so recently with Luton and Bournemouth. However, Cusack claims they will not get involved unnecessarily.

"The PFA's stance is measured. It is not designed to destabilise the club in any way,'' he said. ''If the players are paid, we recommend that they get on with it, and the players at Portsmouth want to do just that - they want the chance to fight their way out of their relegation situation. But if they are not paid or there are no assurances that they will be paid, that does undermine them.

"The club have been late paying the players now for three months, but this time, they said they would be paid on Monday, and I suggested that they should say it would be Tuesday to be on the safe side. They said definitely the players would be paid on Tuesday, but they missed their own deadline, and that is worrying."

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