Portsmouth plan player sales to ease debt crisis

Cash-strapped Portsmouth have confirmed they have asked the English Premier League (EPL) for permission to sell players outside the transfer window.

Last Updated: Feb 18, 2010, 23:07 PM IST

Portsmouth: Cash-strapped Portsmouth have confirmed they have asked the English Premier League (EPL) for permission to sell players outside the transfer window.

But if their plan is to become a reality they will need permission from both the English Football Association and world football governing body FIFA.

A Portsmouth spokesman said Thursday: "I can confirm we have put in a request to the Premier League to sell players outside the transfer window. It is something we are exploring."

Among the players the south coast club may be tempted to sell are Algeria`s Nadi Belhadj and midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng.

However, whether Belhadj, a first team regular at Fratton Park, would want to move somewhere where he might struggle to break into the team at this stage of the season, with the World Cup looming, remains open to question.

But there is a suggestion that, as part of any transfer, players would remain with Portsmouth until the end of the current campaign.

Time is running out for Portsmouth to sell anyone with the club due back in court on March 1 to face a winding-up order from Her Majesty`s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over million of pounds of unpaid taxes.

Pompey -- who were FA Cup winners in 2008 -- have lurched from one problem to another during the last seven months as four different owners failed to ease the cash crisis at Fratton Park.

The club, who are seven points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League, have debts of over 60 million pounds, with some 28 million pounds owed to former owner Sacha Gaydamak.

Portsmouth lodged a statement of affairs with London`s High Court on Wednesday in a bid to prove they are still a solvent company.

The documents will now be studied by HMRC ahead of the March 1 hearing.

If Portsmouth go into administration they would face the prospect of a 10 points deduction.

However, if they were wound up league results achieved against Portsmouth would be wiped out and that, combined with a failure to fulfil their outstanding fixtures, would create a chaotic situation at both ends of the English top flight table.

This is something Premier League officials are desperate to avoid and has led to suggestions that money due to Portsmouth from the EPL might be advanced in a bid to ease the club`s cash problems.

This week former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric blamed his old side`s financial problems on owners who "have no business in football".

Serbian-American businessman Mandaric, who led Pompey into the Premier League after buying the club when they were in administration 11 years ago, is convinced Gaydamak, Sulaiman al-Fahim, Ali al-Faraj and current owner, Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai, must all shoulder the responsibility for Portsmouth`s perilous situation.

"I sold it to a proper owner -- Sacha Gaydamak," Mandaric, now the chairman of second-tier Leicester City, said.

"After he sold the club the new owners came in with no money. That is where the problem started. They had no business to be in football because they had no money."

Pompey`s battle against relegation continues at home to Stoke on Saturday.

Bureau Report