DESPERATE Portsmouth appeared to lurch closer to becoming the first top flight club to go into administration last night when talks with HM Revenue and Customs were believed to have broken down.
The south coast outfit is expected to ask for an adjournment when they appear in the High Court this morning to face a potentially-fatal winding-up order from HMRC.
Pompey lawyers spent yesterday and Monday attempting to persuade HMRC to accept a down-payment, thought to be £1.8m, against a VAT bill of around £7.5m.
They hope to delay paying the remainder until a new owner is found for the financially-crippled side. Portsmouth are already bottom of the Premier League and face a nine-point penalty if they go into administration.
Chief executive Peter Storrie said: “I already have more than one interested party and am hopeful that we can finally find owners who have the best interests of everyone at the club at heart in order to move us forward.”
Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai last week became Portsmouth’s fourth owner in the space of six months, but is already keen to sell the club.
The club is thought to have debts of around £60m and has failed to pay its staff on time on four occasions this season. Chainrai became the club’s fourth owner this season when he took up an option triggered by his predecessor Ali Al-Faraj defaulting on a loan repayment to him.
Dindane leveller appeases fuming Grant
PORTSMOUTH 1-1 SUNDERLAND
STRIKER Aruna Dindane brought some much-needed cheer to Fratton Park with a 96th-minute header that earned Portsmouth a point against nine-man Sunderland.
Darren Bent had put the visitors on course for a first away win since the opening day of the season when he converted a penalty after being fouled by Ricardo Rocha. That incident saw Rocha sent off and incensed Pompey manager Avram Grant so much that he too was red carded at half-time for complaining.
Not to be outdone, Sunderland had Lee Cattermole and substitute David Meyler dismissed in the second half, before Dindane’s last-gasp leveller.