|HALL RIGHT NOW: Andronikou's claims at odds with all of those around at the time...|
Wed 17th Oct 2012 22:13 by Micah Hall
Andrew Andronikou's interview with Pompey-fans.com was certainly illuminating. One common denominator of the articles we have published in the last fortnight seems to be the wave of sympathy people feel for those who had to work under Portpin and Andronikou's direction.
The interview made a number of claims which quite simply seem to be at odds with the facts, and one interesting facet of Andronikou’s claims is how many of them are direct results of actions by Portpin. Let's start with the now infamous Portpin offer to match funding on player income during the 2012 January transfer window. Our sources suggest that this offer simply did not exist in writing, but we would welcome any proof that it did.
Secondly, the amounts claimed as being on the table are disputed by those on the football beat in the south of England and East Anglia. There was indeed an offer from a Championship side, Ipswich, on the table for three players, Ward, Henderson and Pearce. The offer was for significantly less than £2m. However, the problem was that the deal was conditional on Pompey taking two of Town’s highest earners in return. The net effect would have been less than £2m in transfer revenue, while agreeing to over £1m net being added to the wage bill.
The need to take Ipswich players in return – midfielder Grant Leadbitter and defender Damien Delaney - was widely publicised at the time.
Bearing in mind that the club was teetering on the brink of administration, who in their right mind would sanction a deal to increase the wage bill? Of course, there was also the slight problem that Pompey's manager Michael Appleton was apparently less than keen on those players.
Ipswich came back with a revised and much lower offer of £750,000 for Henderson and Ward close to the deadline. Again though, the problem with this was that the players were worth more and the amount wouldn't save the club from administration even with matching funding.
Ipswich Chief Executive Simon Clegg said at the time it was apparent something was not quite right at Pompey and that Andronikou was deeply implicated in what was going on. “It was incredibly hard work,” he admitted. “We were dealing with [Andrew Andronikou] on the one hand and David Lampitt on the other. Let’s just say, with the benefit of hindsight, there were games being played between the two,’ he told Ipswich fans’ website twtd.com.
“It would be wrong for me to speculate on the record in terms of why we weren’t able to sign the players after we had agreed a price with Portsmouth ... There were quite a lot of underhand movements within the club. They were definitely trying to hold on and keep their squad together,” he added.
Similarly Town boss Paul Jewell felt frustrated by events at the time: “We were up against the clock really and it was a bit of a saga, to be honest. I think they were unique circumstances because it had been going on for three weeks and we were getting different phone calls saying ‘You’re not allowed to speak to the chief executive [Lampitt], you have to speak to the [parent company's ie CSI] administrator [Andronikou]’”. Even more of an obstacle to the deal was the fact that Ward and Henderson both publicly made it plain that they did not want to go to Ipswich. And neither subsequently did go to Ipswich, although Henderson has now joined Town on loan from West Ham United.
Pompey-fans.com have spoken to sources who spoke to David Lampitt on several occasions on transfer deadline day, which would have been difficult to do had his phone been switched off. In fact, the sources described exactly the same picture of confusion and chaos. Clubs interested in Pompey's players were being told by different people that they did or did not have permission to speak to players. Clearly there was a battle for control raging, and when Andronikou could not push through the deals he wanted to do, he turned on Lampitt and dismissed him.
The first question that arises here is why would anyone want to deals that would land the club with an increased wage bill, unless it would have brought in short-term cash at any cost?
According to sources it is hard to know exactly what the deals were that were on offer amidst the chaos, but the whole thing smacks of January 2010, (as detailed here) when outside influences attempted to push through deals the club’s directors did not want to do. The club’s directors will have been only too aware that in 2010, the £4m proceeds of the Younes Kaboul sale were not used to keep the club out of administration, they were taken by Portpin. They will have been aware of this because all were working for Pompey when the bill for the 2010 craziness had to be paid - with CSI, with Lampitt and Redgate on the Board, having to pay £1m to Spurs for the privilege of selling Asmir Begovic to Stoke for £2m. That £2m fee was taken from Pompey by Daniel Azougy and friends.
So if the directors were resisting pressure to sign on the dotted line on behalf of Portpin and Andronikou, good. Had Portpin kept a verbal promise to deliver matching funding then it would have been out of character indeed - ask the small creditors.
All of which is beside the point. Andrew Andronikou and Portpin had no authority to run Portsmouth FC at that time. It was up to the club’s management to negotiate deals and make decisions. Instead, as disclosed by Andronikou, Portpin had a plan and Andronikou tried, by his own admission and the evidence of Ipswich Town’s CEO and team manager, to ride roughshod over the club’s properly appointed management in pursuit of that plan. QED.
As Pompey were days from administration, Andrew Andronikou and Portpin were running the show.
We've touched on the inheritance Portpin left for CSI, and Andronikou referred to an "£11m cash injection" by CSI in an unpublished part of the interview. It's important to break this down as it is critical to the current debate.
Over half of that £10.5m (not £11m) cash injection went in clearing up the mess Portpin left behind for CSI. In the first month CSI found £2m in urgent unpaid bills requiring payment. They also had to settle Ben Haim's £2m unpaid wages, and settle the £1m 'absence of Begovic' bill to Spurs. Andrew Andronikou also said CSI were "robbed by everyone in the UK". The lawyers would say res ipsa loquitor, or 'it speaks for itself'.
CSI also spent nearly £5m on signing on fees and transfer fees. This is because Portpin left the club with eight contracted players. CSI had future plans for the club and had to buy a team in a short period of time. All in all, this £10.5m cash injection actually redressed the starvation of funds by Portpin over recent months.
Andronikou said on 6th January 2012 that Vladimir Antonov had appeared to be "triple A rated" when he came to Pompey. No he wasn't. His bank wasn't allowed to trade here because of "a pattern of misrepresentation" common to all institutions run by Mr Antonov. The banking arm of the EU wouldn't allow him to own any business that owed them money. He was barred from entering America. In short, there was nothing “triple A rated” about Antonov, certainly not his bank which was rated as junk on the credit markets. Mr Antonov denies any wrongdoing in the investigation into the £200m missing from that bank.
Where did the £10.5m come from that went into Pompey? The jury is quite literally out on that one, but when Pompey-fans.com did due diligence on CSI, we found enough to suggest that Snoras Bank wouldn’t be our chosen haven for our pocket money. Portpin chose to sell to Antonov, when there was ample evidence to suggest that their IOU £17m was about as reliable as a betting slip…
Despite having been given ample opportunity to respond, Portpin's retained PR agency contend a number of unspecified allegations in Micah Hall's articles are 'unfounded, unsubstantiated and defamatory'. Portpin continue to have the full right of reply to enable them to explain how and why the sources of the articles are mistaken. UHY Hacker Young's PR department has also been contacted but they have refused to comment on a series of questions.
Want to know more? Click here to read why PFC owe Portpin absolutely nothing... Click here to read why Portpin controlled PFC from October 2009... Click here to read the inside story of the 'Ali Al Faraj' regime... Click here to see how 'Ali Al Faraj' tried to take the biscuit with Sacha... Click here for Part One of our exclusive interview with Andronikou and here to read Part Two
Click here to read questions 1-13 sent to Portpin and their responses, here to read questions 14-23, here to read questions 24-33, here to read questions 34-44, here to read questions 45-54, here to read questions 55-70, here to read questions 71-85 and here to read questions 86-106.
The views of Micah Hall are his own and don't necessarily reflect the editorial view of pompey-fans.com. Any proceeds of this column are donated to Action Aid.
The Pompey Supporters' Trust is still seeking pledges from Pompey fans to back their bid. Information can be found here
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