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English Premiership

Pompey crushed by debts

LONDON, April 22 – The true extent of crisis club Portsmouth's financial problems was revealed when their debts were revealed to be around 120 million pounds (185 million dollars) – over 40 million pounds more than previously estimated.Bad enough in itself, the chaos surrounding the south coast club’s accounts was highlighted by the extraordinary disclosure they owe Tottenham Hotspur a million pounds over the sale of Asmir Begovic – even though the goalkeeper has never played for the north London club.

Begovic was linked with Tottenham in January but instead signed for another English Premier League side in Stoke City.

However, Pompey have been left owing Spurs a one million pounds sell-on fee.

Portsmouth, bottom of the Premier League and already relegated after being deducted nine points last month for entering administration, sent a 70-page document to all their known creditors on Wednesday detailing their debts which include the 38.2 million owed to former owners in unsecured loans.

The club have passed through four owners this season in a series of moves that have done precious little for Portsmouth’s off-the-field stability.

Hong Kong-based businessman Balram Chainrai, the club’s most recent owner, is owed 14 million pounds, while Portsmouth’s total unpaid bill to British tax authorities amounts to 17.1 million pounds.

Portsmouth, whose Fratton Park ground now holds some 20,000 fans, have also been hard hit by transfer fees a club of their size could not afford without the support of an indulgent benefactor.

They owe 9.76 million pounds to 26 agents, including 2.3 million pounds which is due to one agent for just one deal, reported to be the transfer of Lassana Diarra.

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Portsmouth’s fans are among some of the most loyal in England but the club’s standing with its heartland community is bound to be damaged by the huge number of local creditors.

Covering 15 pages in Wednesday’s document, they include a school, a newsagent and a florist.

Administrator Andrew Andronikou needs at least 75 percent of the unsecured creditors to accept reduced repayment terms and agree to a Company Voluntary Arrangement that would take Pompey out of administration.

Andronikou has invited creditors to a meeting at Fratton Park on May 6, just nine days before Pompey are due to play Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

There, he will inform them of his offer, with reports estimating it at around 20-25p in the pound.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, whose organisation distributes television and performance money to top-flight clubs from a central pool, told BBC Radio that Pompey’s plight was their own fault.

"If you start the season knowing you’re going to get between 30 million pounds and 50 million pounds as a starter from the Premier League, through the year, it is entirely possible to get yourself organised so you don’t get into the difficulties that Portsmouth got into."

Former manager Harry Redknapp, now at Tottenham, has come under fire for the recruitment of several high-profile players even though it was under his guidance that Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008.

But, earlier this month, Redknapp insisted: "All I did was bring players in, do well in the Premier League, win the FA Cup, and then they sold them at a massive profit."

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Despite their cash crisis, Portsmouth beat Redknapp’s Spurs 2-0 in the last four of the FA Cup this month and will face Premier League leaders Chelsea in the May 15 final at Wembley.

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