Ex-Pompey player ‘wrote off money’ to keep club alive

LOSING OUT Luke Varney, right, is owed money by Pompey, along with ex-team-mate Joel Ward.
LOSING OUT Luke Varney, right, is owed money by Pompey, along with ex-team-mate Joel Ward.

Former Pompey footballer Luke Varney says he has written off money to aid keeping the club in existence.

As revealed in The News, he is one of 25 ex-players owed a total of £6.72m since May this year by the Blues as part of compromise agreements reached with former administrators BDO.

Such settlements cover deferred wages, outstanding bonuses and the cost of players walking away early from often lucrative deals.

The unwanted legacy of past Pompey regimes is a result of administrations in 2010 and 2012.

Despite the former 25 players being owed money, local businesses will get only a small proportion of what is outstanding to them.

But Varney insists he has had to make financial losses as a result of Pompey’s plight, claiming he took money out of his mortgage at one point ‘to make ends meet’.

The striker was one of eight senior professionals former administrator Trevor Birch warned had to be removed from the payroll before August 10, 2012, or the club would cease to exist.

He subsequently left Fratton Park in July 2012 after just a season, ripping up the remaining two years of his contract to sign for Leeds.

According to PFA figures lodged with Companies House, repayments of his £153,818 settlement began in May.

And he revealed he had no qualms about losing money to help.

Varney said: ‘Me and other lads didn’t want the club to fold, of course we didn’t.

‘I must admit, I didn’t really get involved in the politics, I was just trying to keep Pompey in the Championship, but in the end we had to do our bit off the field.

‘I could have asked for some more money going forward, I was entitled to it, but that was not fair on the club so I decided not to.

‘I cannot remember the exact figures now but as players we did what we had to do and they needed us off the books so the club could survive. It was an easy decision.

‘At one point all the players deferred our wages, so me and my family ended up taking money out of our mortgage to make ends meet.

‘People might think it is ridiculous considering the wages we earn but it was all relative, we all have bills to pay.

‘Once you are committed to paying stuff you have the same monthly repayments, regardless. You cannot go and get it from somewhere while you wait for your wages to be paid back.

‘It was hard in that period and we had to look after our own livelihoods – but there was also the club’s future to look out for.

‘Hopefully they have come through it now. It’s a cracking club.’

Among Varney’s team-mates at the time were Tal Ben Haim (owed £1.63m as of May 2013), Liam Lawrence (£616,667), Dave Kitson (£608,333), David Norris (£182,730), Greg Halford (£162,803), Kanu (£155,315) and Erik Huseklepp (£40,000).

Some took greater hits than others when negotiating settlements with Mr Birch.

When contacted by The News yesterday to discuss the compromise agreements, former chief executive David Lampitt, ex-administrator Andrew Andronikou and Mr Birch declined to comment.