Trust try to get to the bottom of delay.
During the negotiations in early 2010 for the Administration of PFC, Mr Chainrai, the previous and next owner of PFC made a public pledge that his company, Portpin, would pay all the small Creditors who were owed £2500 or less.
To date, as far as we are aware, no-one has been paid a penny. We believe the total debt to all creditors to be around £120,000.
The Trust have been doing some investigation into when these creditors will be paid, but all we have found is confusion. We will set out the evidence as told to us and then try and draw a conclusion which will guide future action.
Earlier this year David Lampitt said:
‘There is no shortcut in that process. We have just got to see it through in exactly the same way as the charities. Even trying to fast-track charities was not straightforward. That is because there is a legal process to go through.'
‘Realistically it is something we want to have completed in the next couple of months. '
‘It is one of those things that should be a positive story because these guys are getting 100 per cent of their debts and it’s a fine gesture. There is no concern, it’s just a procedural matter we have got to make sure is done properly and it probably has taken a bit more time than we anticipated but it is going to happen. '
‘Portpin made the invitation and will pay it.’
It was indeed a fine gesture, but it sadly seems an empty one so far. Mr Lampitt was speaking at a time when Mr Chainrai was the owner of PFC so can be forgiven for being pro Mr Chainrai.
When we contacted PFC again recently Tanya Robbins directed us to Baker Tilley who are handling the investigation into the 'oldco' to see if there was any illegal activity during the demise of PFC, she said she had no idea which creditors would be paid or when.
Recently one of Pompey's administrators from UYC Hacker Young Michael Kiely said:
`It is a pledge that's still in place – Portsmouth are still looking to pay them in full. I'm not sure whether it will be Portpin who pay, the club, or the new owners. That is not clear.'
Emma Judd, a journalist from the News, put together a good story in July, I asked her for her views on the situation.
'If the deal with the small creditors wasn't passed on as part of the sale, it looks likely that the club will have to find the money to pay, and then try and get the money back from Portpin at a later date.
'A lot of the delay has been from creditors owed slightly more than £2,500 adjusting their claims downwards so they get the full amount back, rather than just 20p for every £1 they're owed.
'Every single claim has to be gone through individually and the creditor has to agree to assign 20p of every £1 they get back to the club (basically, because they're creditors, they also qualify to get 20p for every £1 - but with the club paying them back in full, it could mean they get 120p for every £1 they're owed) and that process takes a long time. That convoluted deal was done by the administrator, UHY Hacker Young, not the club.
'The one other big thing that has been holding it up, as well, was the sale of the club, which as everyone knows took four months to complete.'
I also contacted Chris Purkiss at Baker Tilley as asked to by PFC, he said:
'I would advise you that upon appointment, we were advised that details of the creditors with claims of less than £2,500 had all been passed to Portpin Limited, the company responsible for settling such claims. The Company Voluntary Arrangement states that these claims will be settled by Portpin Limited however we are unaware of any agreed deadline by which these creditors must be paid. Our understanding from the former joint Administrators is that there is no agreed timescale for payment of these creditors although the original intention was that these creditors would be paid as quickly as possible
Since our appointment, we have been seeking to establish what the latest position is with regard to this payment. We have sought a response from Portpin Limited, the former Administrators and Portsmouth City Football Club (2010) Limited (“NewCo”). Whilst we know that the creditor details have been passed to Portpin Limited and/or NewCo it remains unclear as to when the payments will actually be made.'
We then sought information from David Lampitt, after waiting for a period of time he has said that he can't comment at this time, but wanted to stress the club is a 'Third Party' in the situation.
As you can see from the evidence above, it a still a confusing minefield of conjecture and finger pointing.
What is clear is that, although PFC (the 'newco') have no legal responsibility to fulfil the previous owners promise, it is possible that they will deal with it at some point.
We have our fingers crossed this is the case because the whole sorry saga still remains a horrible stain on the Football Club akin to the Charity money debacle. Whether Mr Lampitt and CSI like it or not, it reflects just as badly on PFC now as it did under the previous ownership.
Fans do not make distinctions between legal companies, previous and new owners, they will always see it as Portsmouth Football Club, the club they love. PFC will have to work very hard to regain trust from Fans and local business once again.
We would urge PFC to find a way, if at all possible, to get information or payment to these Small Creditors as soon as possible for these reasons. The Trust will continue to ask questions and try desperately to penetrate the wall of confusion that surrounds this problem.