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Saturday, August 4, 2012
Ben Haim key to Pompey's future

Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Portsmouth administrator Trevor Birch told ESPN on Saturday night that Tal Ben Haim has the club's future in his hands and that he must reach agreement over his contract by Tuesday or the club faces closure.

On the day when a team of trialists put in a brilliant performance to beat Bolton Wanderers 3-0 at Fratton Park in front of 4,500 fans, Birch suggested the club's hopes of starting the new League One season are no better than "50-50".

The club has only two senior professionals left on their books, with Liam Lawrence being the other though he is actively searching for a new club. But Ben Haim seems reluctant to accept anything other than full payment before he will walk away from the south coast club.

Birch first revealed to ESPN that the club will formally shut down on August 10 unless all the big earners can be moved on, but now he reveals that decisions will have to be made before then to meet the deadline.

Birch said: "I am trying to fight to save the club going into oblivion but we only have a few days left and it's on a knife edge, I cannot genuinely tell you what will happen.

"We need to sort out the final couple of players by midweek, which only gives us a few days to get Portpin [potential new owners] to the party to agree the takeover.

"[Dave] Kitson has now left the club and Liam Lawrence is genuinely trying to sort out his issues, which then leaves Tal Ben Haim. Kanu has left but his claim remains but we are getting close to resolving that one, his agent is now talking and I believe we can get there.

"Ben Haim, though, has a deal on the table but he has taken a view and doesn't appear to be shifting. He might think it's a game of bluff and the club won't close, but I think he will very soon find out that it is real.

"And that will be such a crying shame for the club. Portsmouth had a friendly today, beating Bolton with a load of trialists, and the crowd were magnificent. Four and a half thousand making the kind of noise only they can make."

Birch added: "It remains still only 50-50 that the club can survive. We have until August 10, but we will all need to know a few days before Friday."

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