Toast special - Bidders slug it out
At a boxing match you would hear the timekeeper shout 'seconds out, round one!' Well that is just about where we are now with the Pompey takeover bids.
There are reportedly six contenders in for the big 'prize` but only two appear to have any realistic chance of succeeding. They are in the red corner, Portpin Ltd represented by Balram Chainrai and in the blue corner, The Pompey Supporters` Trust represented by spokesman Colin Farmery. The referee is Mr Trevor Birch of PKF and the judges are the board of the Football League.
Chainrai (usually known as Chanderai in Pompey for some reason) immediately goes on the attack claiming that the Trust bid will fail due to in-fighting and lack of real money. He claims that they have no money in place and there are about thirty plus trying to run it. Struggling on the ropes Farmery retaliates claiming there is no in-fighting claiming the team 'are completely united in our goal.`
The judges have marked their cards, in total confidence of course, and round two is soon underway. This time Colin is on the front foot with 'I am a bit bemused by Mr Chainrai's statements. The last time we heard from the administrators there were no issues in terms of our bid stacking up financially - and the Football League has made it clear they have no issues either." Balu responds with saying he is the only bidder with the experience and money to carry the club back to its former glories."
The gloves are really off now and the fighting centres around whether Portpin would pass the Football League`s Owners and Directors` test. The Trust claims that Chainrai has twice taken the club into Administration and under the new rules he should be disqualified. Chainrai denies having any part the latest Administration and that it was caused by the collapse of Convers Sports after the arrest of boss Vladimir Antonov. The Trust then introduce a new witness in David Lampitt former Chief Executive of the club and now holding that post with Supporters Direct a body that have worked closely with the Trust during the bid process.
Lampitt is believed to have made in clear that Portpin played a major in Pompey plunging back into Admin. Chainrai flatly denies this accusation.
Things are now really hotting up and the other bidders are now screaming for both parties to be disqualified by the referee and others to be given a proper chance. They cannot believe that they have been precluded from the elimination process and some claim to be heavyweight contenders. But neither side it appears is going to throw the towel in at this stage.
There is nothing amateur about this contest and thus we go on past round three in fact in perpetuity rather like the timeless cricket test match between South Africa and England in 1939 which only ended when the visitor`s boat had to sail!! There is another story that some had Cup Final tickets and wanted to be there to roar Pompey on! Anyway enough of cricket and back to the fight!
Chainrai is constantly leading with the claim that he has the money to put Pompey back where they belong and there in no value in League One; the Trust still countering that they are the right bidder to look after the creditors and also the fans. The two parties stand toe to toe slugging it out as Birch tries to separate them.
Portpin of course hold the mortgage on Fratton Park and that is that trump card, most fans certainly believe that Chainrai only wants back in to protest that investment. He replies (to the BBC) "I'm going to put money in to return them to their glories and then sell the club. But who knows? I might enjoy it so much I won't sell it. I'm not reluctant anymore. I've changed my mind.'
With that the referee calls and end to the fight and declares that he will soon report to the judges his opinions on who should be the preferred bidder but expects there may be legal wrangles to follow as a number of matters are contested. One of these will of course be the £17m debenture held on the ground which is only valued between £1-2m.
Do we envy Trevor Birch his task? No. We know his company are charging £500 per hour but that only equates to the £1m per annum reportedly owned earned by a certain former Chief Executive.
Hope you have enjoyed this light hearted look by the Toast team at what is a very serious subject for Pompey fans wherever they are and football in general. With news that UEFA have started to enforce their Financial Fair Play rules (Toast 6#6) it is time that football sorted itself out and ensure that clubs are run by those both fit and interested in the game not with other ulterior motives whatever they are and that they live within their means.
Remember keep the faith PUP.