|It was tight, but Pompey fans get the right result from the High Court|
Fri 17th Feb 2012 00:00 by Colin Farmery
Never has losing ten points felt so good. After two and a half years of having its name dragged through the mud, Portsmouth Football Club and its long-suffering supporters might finally be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Administration for PFC was always pretty much a given, once the club's directors had decided that was the best course of action in the light of HMRC's impending Winding Up Petition due to be heard on Monday, which will now be struck out.
Likewise was the club's choice of Andrew Andronikou of UHY Hacker Young as the administrator. Even had the directors preferred someone else, given Andronikou's evident conflict of interest as administrator of the club's parent company CSI, Balram Chainrai, as the holder of a £17m debenture could have over-ruled them anyway.
So once Mr Justice Norris granted the Administration - interestingly HMRC didn't contest the request - after about half an hour, the real game got underway in the High Court. And boy, did it go to extra time and penalties.
At the heart of the matter was who would conduct this second adminstration. Andronikou's demeanour in the week was of a man who clearly felt this was a foregone conclusion.
HMRC had other ideas.
Catherine Giraud, HMRC's QC laid into UHY Hacker Young with avengence, citing its conflict of interest, as administrator of CSI, and also questioning its ability to do the right thing by all the creditors of the club.
All fair comment. After all, Andronikou had led the administration of PFC two years ago. If he'd done such a good job, how come we were in this position again? 'Financial mismanagement' was the lame response, considering PFC is likely to show in its soon-to-be-published accounts it was running at more or less break-even level in 2010-11.
Then HMRC nominated Trevor Birch as an alternative. Awell-respected former football executive and corprate recovery expert, Birch is PKF's star striker, so to speak.
'Foul!' cried the UHY Hacker Young camp. Besides, Balram Chainrai will only fund the Administration to the tune of £500,000 if it's us...
It was a moment to savour. This is what they call in football parlance an 'own goal'.
The 'referee' (AKA Mr Justice Norris - no relation of David) toyed with the twisting corpse of UHY. 'Perhaps HMRC would allow one adminstrator from each camp?'
The reply was whatever legal-speak for 'over our dead body' is.
For Pompey supporters following progress of the hearing hunched over mobile phones, like fans of yore over transistor radios for the FA Cup third round draw, the wait for the Judge's decision felt like an eternity.
In the end the 'verdict' fell. Trevor Birch. 1-0. Get in!
Pompey are not out of the woods. Relegation is now a distinct possibility. A worse sanction than ten points may yet befall the club.
That is of concern of course, but misses the bigger picture. Mr Andronikou, Mr Chainrai, Mr Kushnir, Mr Lampitt, Mr 'Ali Al Faraj', Mr Jacob - and may be even Messrs Al Fahim, Storrie and Gaydamak - there may just be a light that fans can trust about to finally shine on the extraordinary goings-on at Fratton Park over the past 30 months or so. Those with clear consiciences have nothing to fear.
The truth will out. And once it does, there may just be the chance for Portsmouth FC to find an owner, or ownership model, its fans can be proud of again...
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