Cash-strapped Portsmouth have 'shelved tax bills for years', say former Fratton Park officials

03 January 2010 11:38
Crisis club Portsmouth failed to pay tax bills for years, according to information provided to the City of London Police and HM Revenue and Customs by two former club officials.

The two, who both held senior positions at Fratton Park, were interviewed as part of the joint police/ HMRC inquiry into alleged corruption in football.

Last week HMRC issued a winding-up petition against Portsmouth over £3.5million of outstanding tax.

Portsmouth protesters: Fans outside Fratton Park after the draw with Coventry

The club's current regime say they are confident of reaching anagreement, but it is understood that the taxman would be prepared tomake Portsmouth the first Premier League club to go bust.

One of the former Portsmouth employees told The Mail on Sunday lastnight: 'I am not surprised about the current desperate situation.

'The club has had a very relaxed attitude to meeting its taxobligations - the focus has been on meeting the vast wage bill whichwas just not sustainable for a club of the size of Portsmouth.'

Loan deal: Peter Storrie at Portsmouth

Unless Portsmouth can strike a deal, the winding-up petition will be heard in court on February 10.

According to the second former club official, this is not the first time Portsmouth has had a run-in with the taxman.

In a statement given to City of London police, the exemployee saidof his time at the club under former owner Milan Mandaric: 'As a club,it was under a lot of pressure as things were really tight. Tax andnational insurance would often be overdue on a regular basis. It wasembarrassing.

'We had to call the tax people in and come up with an agreement onhow to resolve matters. This was something I had never come across inbusiness before. It could only happen in football. If that was anyother company, they would not be so forgiving.'

As revealed by The Mail on Sunday in October, current owner Ali AlFaraj inherited PAYE, National Insurance and VAT arrears totalling£10m, on top of tens of millions of pounds of debts owed to banks,previous owner Alexandre Gaydamak, clubs in England and overseas, and anumber of agents.

The Al Faraj regime blamed the club's problems on the way it was run under Gaydamak and short-lived owner Sulaiman Al Fahim.

Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie hopes the club's players will receive their December wages either tomorrow or Tuesday.

Storrie said: 'My understanding is that a short-term loan is coming in to pay the wages.'

 FA Cup third round live: Follow all the actionPortsmouth players must wait until after the weekend to be paidTottenham set to end Jamie O'Hara's loan spell at PortsmouthPORTSMOUTH FC

Source: Daily_Mail