Pompey creditors return for unwanted ‘reunion’

Deepak Chainrai arrives for the creditors' meeting at Fratton Park

Deepak Chainrai arrives for the creditors' meeting at Fratton Park

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They watched from their distinguished vantage point high in the Victory Lounge.

Pompey legends, club heroes, inductees into the Hall of Fame, ageless faces framed in pictures adorning the wall.

Among them was Linvoy Primus, who lost his job during the most recent case of administration as the club endures its latest excursion to the brink of falling out of existence.

Then there was Len Phillips, whose family were so shamefully treated at the turn of the year having asked to hold a wake at his spiritual home.

Others such as Andy Awford, Alan McLoughlin and Guy Whittingham remain employed at Fratton Park in coaching capacities, working with young and senior players alike.

Perhaps it was fitting such glorious Pompey presences yesterday bore witness to the latest chapter in the history of a club they have devoted the majority of their lives to.

It is a club on the verge of imploding in front of the very eyes of great men who helped build it and forever retain the pride at having served it.

The occasion was a meeting of creditors, gathered from 11am yesterday to help decide the destiny of Portsmouth Football Club.

Balram Chainrai’s Portpin CVA proposals were being voted upon, the next crucial step in ensuring the club remains at Football League level in its current existence.

Failure prompted the liquidation of Rangers just two weeks ago, such is its importance.

Of course, ultimately the players and the bloated wage bill will have the final say in Pompey’s resuscitation. Yet yesterday was all about the next forward movement in what has been painful progress for the Fratton faithful.

Of course, we have been here before. Namely almost two years to the day.

Back then UHY Hacker Young, shepherded by Andrew Andronikou, occupied the stage in the Victory Lounge.

Depressingly, however, the audience has remained a constant.

Eddy Wilson, Jake Payne, Roger Higgins, Chris Dixon and Ian Vosper, just a handful of those familiar faces asked back in an attempt to retrieve money owed as local creditors.

It was in June 2010 when they previously voted on a CVA.

Once again the product of Portpin, they were sweetened by the promise that all creditors owed below £2,500 would be paid in full.

Fast forward two years and they were back, still to receive a penny from the last CVA and being asked to rubberstamp one put forward once more by Portpin.

As somebody joked; ‘These reunions are getting ridiculous. See you in two year’s time, though’.

Gallows humour from those who continue to be hit hard in the pocket by the club they love while those who oversaw its demise have lived to fight another day, long since leaving the mess behind for others to sweep up.

Incidentally, a notable absentee was David Lampitt, unavoidably detained courtesy of the date coinciding with the first day of his new job at Supporters Direct.

Yet while the chief executive can clearly move on, the club he used to serve cannot as it continues to fight for existence amid a whirlpool of debt.

Yesterday the sole representative of the last board which steered the ship towards the icebergs was John Redgate, formerly the chief financial officer and effectively Lampitt’s right-hand man.

Along with ex-commercial director Nick Byrom, the trio have already made football creditor claims to the Football League over monies owed.

The move effectively takes away funds earmarked to keep the club running through administration.

All three attended the previous creditors’ meeting held in May, an occasion upon which they in turn used it to self-justify their performances and heap criticism upon administrators PKF.

Still, with Lampitt not around, the big-name guest was Deepak Chainrai, although admittedly he too had attended the previous event.

Representing his brother Balram’s company Portpin, he was a central figure during the shareholders’ meeting which was called five minutes into proceedings, as advised by Trevor Birch.

After an hour-long secondment, they returned along with old company liquidators Baker Tilly and various other groups to announce a successful amendment to the CVA proposals.

Under the alterations, Portpin had waived their 28-day exclusivity to allow the entrance of alternative bids ahead of Chainrai’s company closing the deal to buy Pompey.

That opens the door for the Pompey Supporters’ Trust to make a grand entrance in their efforts to buy the club on behalf of the fans who have invested so much money and hope.

Of course, for any deal to be successful Portpin’s debt must be financially compromised to their satisfaction. Still, it’s a start.

Subsequently the CVA was achieved. Again. The creditors have been told they will get a proportion of their money back. Again.

The club has new slate. Again.

Portpin are on their way to taking control of Portsmouth Football Club. Again.

Yet the Trust are there. Having jostled for a place on the starting grid they continue to fight hard in an attempt to ensure in the future there is no more repeat of the past.

If supporters want a different direction now is the time to back Ashley Brown and his board by honouring their pledges and joining them in the final push.

And let’s just hope the next time Primus, Phillips, Awford, McLoughlin and Whittingham cast their lofty gaze across the Victory Lounge they will witness a new dawn rather than a funeral procession.