premier league news

Portsmouth have no plans to sue Premier League

January 17, 2010
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent and Soccernet staff

Soccernet has been told that Portsmouth have no plans to sue the Premier League over their transfer embargo.

Avram Grant
GettyImagesBoss Avram Grant can now strengthen

Reports in Sunday's press, quoting chief executive Peter Storrie, stated that legal proceedings would be instigated to get the ban lifted, enabling boss Avram Grant to strengthen before the end of the month.

But Soccernet has learned that Portsmouth intend to deliver a "strongly worded letter" on Monday morning. Instead the stricken bottom-of-the-table club are seeking the help of the Premier League, and plan to put their case in writing having spent most of last week in meetings and talks.

Portsmouth, at the moment, feel they being treated as "the black sheep of the family" because the Premier League has never suffered the ignominy of one of their members entering administration, and a stigma is attached to their financial light due to all the adverse publicity.

Mark Jacob, executive director at Fratton Park, acting on behalf of the owner Ali Al Faraj, and a lawyer, told Soccernet: "We are providing the Premier League with a detailed response to our present position regarding our liabilities."

Soccernet understands that the letter carries no threat of legal action. However, Portsmouth feel strongly enough to seek some sort of arbitration if the issues cannot be resolved amicably.

Portsmouth have made representation to the Premier League that they are owed transfer fees from two foreign clubs, but no one is helping them to get their money, while the Premier League insists they have to meet all their footballing liabilities before the transfer embargo can be lifted.

Portsmouth have enlisted Maurice Watkins, the high powered lawyer who represents Manchester United, to help them argue their case.

Jacob added: "Every club has future liabilities, but our future liabilities are holding us back because the transfer embargo has not yet been lifted, and we urgently need to lift the embargo before the January window expires."

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has explained that he is still not satisfied that Portsmouth are in a position to pull themselves out of their precarious financial position.

Scudamore has insisted that the interests of all clubs concerned must be taken into consideration. He said: "Portsmouth know the score. We need documentation at the Premier League which is as watertight and as strong as the original contract on which the players were signed.

"The minute we've got absolute proof that any contractual amendments they've made with other clubs are as robust as the original contract that was signed, then obviously that money gets released.

"At the point when we as a Premier League determine there are no outstanding liabilities, absolutely nailed down, absolutely clear, absolutely concise then of course the transfer ban will be lifted, but at the moment it is still it place.''

Scudamore was also quick to dismiss suggestions that the Premier League had taken too long to intervene at Portsmouth as they lurch from one disaster to another. He said: "We can only go by our rule book. I don't think anyone wants the Premier League running football clubs, it's very much for the owners to run the football clubs.

"In fairness to the people at Portsmouth and Peter Storrie and the people who are running that club, they are working very, very hard and have worked extremely hard to live the dream for Portsmouth.

"They've had a succession of owners through there and the people there now are scrabbling very hard to make sure this football club stays alive.

"There's only a certain point at which we can intervene. We changed our rules in September and now, when we see the financials (reports) that come in from clubs at the end of March, we will be able to take a stronger role to come in and make sure they are sustainable.''

On whether a top-flight club could go to the wall, Scudamore said: "You can't say it is impossible to imagine a Premier League club going out of business, that would be foolish.

"Given the amount of central income that is generated by the Premier League, it would be down to absolutely rank bad management if a club itself was actually to go into administration.''

Scudamore, speaking on Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme, revealed that the "Fit and Proper Persons" test was not designed to ensure an owner had enough funds to run a club.

He said: "Do you want to just have a club that barely survives in the Premier League? Do you actually want to own a club that is safely mid-table? Do you want to own a club that pushes for Europe? Do you want to own a club that guarantees being in the Champions League?

"Your attitude and answers to those questions give you an answer as to what sort of money might be required and we at the Premier League are never going to be intervening to the level where we decide how much it needs to run a club.

"Debt per se is not bad. It's the amount of debt relative to your income that's the critical issue.''