Victory for Portsmouth in tax battle

PORTSMOUTH claimed a monumental victory yesterday after it was saved from the brink of liquidation by a High Court ruling.

The debt-ridden club were handed a lifeline after HM Revenue and Customs lost an appeal to block a proposed Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) to help the club out of administration.

Instead, Mr Justice Mann ordered the proposed CVA would stand, allowing Portsmouth to continue its search for new owners and begin their new Championship campaign, starting with tomorrow’s trip to Coventry.

Representing HMRC, which claims it is owed £37m by the south-coast club, Gregory Mitchell QC argued the club’s CVA favoured football-based creditors, such as players and agents over other, unsecured creditors, like themselves. “One class scoops the pool and the rest are left out in the cold,” he claimed.

Pompey’s lawyers stated that the club faced liquidation if it lost the case, and while chief executive David Lampitt insists the Fratton Park club is still working “under fairly significant financial restraints”, it could at least look to a brighter future.

“There’s no magic wand anyone can wave,” Lampitt said. “There’s a lot to be sorted out but we need to keep winning the battles put in front of us. Hopefully today is a good demonstration of that.”

HMRC said in a statement afterwards: “We are naturally disappointed – and we confirm we do not intend to appeal.

“Our aim when pursuing debt of any kind is to achieve a fair outcome for the taxpayer and we will take this forward in the wider context of the football industry.”