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From the News (article here)

Friday 17 February 2012 

A High Court judge today refused to allow Andrew Andronikou’s firm to act as Pompey’s administrators.

Mr Justice Alastair Norris ruled UHY Hacker Young will not be in charge.

The decision came despite Balram Chainrai’s firm Portpn Ltd offering £500,000 to the club if Mr Andronikou or another administrator it approves of was appointed.

The court heard Portpn was not prepared to hand over the cash purely to assist Pompey.

But Mr Justice Norris appointed corporate recovery specialists PKF as administrators, headed up by partners Trevor Birch and Bryan Jackson.

Mr Birch is an ex-professional footballer and former chief executive of five football clubs and Mr Jackson has acted as administrator for four Scottish football clubs.

The appointment of PKF comes after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs challenged the appointment of UHY Hacker Young on the grounds that it would be a conflict of interests and would not result in the best deal for Portsmouth taxpayers.

Catherine Giraud, acting on behalf of HMRC, told the hearing: ‘There is very substantial experience and relevant experience of running a football club and administration on the part of Mr Birch and being an administrator of four Scottish football clubs in relation to Mr Jackson.’

Portsmouth Chief Executive David Lampitt and Trveor Birch outside the court

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has been working with some of the club’s creditors to oppose the appointment of UHY Hacker Young and had written to HMRC in a bid to secure support.

Portsmouth City Council sent a letter to the High Court calling for new administrators to be appointed.

UHY Hacker Young was in charge when Pompey last entered administration two years ago and are dealing with the current administration of Pompey’s parent company Convers Sports Initiatives.

Mr Andronikou was the preferred administrator - which sparked alarm among Pompey fans.

Entering administration means a deduction of up to 20 points for Pompey as they enter administration for the second time in two years.

But the move has stopped HMRC’s winding-up petition over unpaid tax - which was due to be heard at the High Court on Monday - in its tracks.

The club now owes about £2m to the revenue.

HMRC neither supported or opposed Pompey’s bid to go into administration.

The club can continue playing football and trading as long as the administrator has funds available to pay ongoing running costs.

Money in the club’s frozen bank account will now be available as an asset which can be used to pay wages.

The account contains £1m advanced to the club by the Premier League last Friday as part of an early parachute payment.

Receipts from the Chelsea FA Cup game and £295,000 from the sale of Ryan Williams are also included in the balance.

February 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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From the News

Published on Friday 17 February 2012

‘Keep the faith,’ new administrator tells Pompey fans Administrator Trevor Birch at the High Court for the Portsmouth FC Admistration hearing with right

Pompey administrator Trevor Birch today urged fans: ‘Keep the faith.’

Mr Birch, from newly appointed administrators PKF, said: ‘I feel the supporters of Portsmouth are happy, that it’s time for a new face, a new change, so let’s hope we can achieve something successful going forward.

‘Obviously the intention is to try and sell the club as a going concern.

‘I just think there needs to be a new face for the supporters - a new face that’s looking at every aspect of the club, just to give it some new vitality.

‘I’m used to dealing with clubs in crisis, you could say most of the Championship is in crisis.

‘Thirty per cent of the clubs in the Championship were paying wages in excess of 100 per cent of turnover.

‘That in itself tells a story.’

When asked what his message to the fans would be Mr Birch said: ‘Keep the faith and keep supporting and hopefully we will find a solution together.’

February 18, 2012 at 9:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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February 18, 2012

Portsmouth boss Michael Appleton revealed he held talks with Birch this morning and has been assured by the administrator that he will endeavour to bring in new players if the Football League will sanction their attempts to strengthen his squad.

Appleton, who also confirmed his players turned up for training yesterday to discover the storage company had changed the padlocks on their lockers at the changing grounds due to outstanding debts, said: "I spoke to him (Birch) this morning and it was quite positive from my point of view because the first thing he said he'll be addressing first thing on Monday morning is to make sure I've got more players in the building.

"So that was really positive, I'm not sure how he's going to do that after the stance the Football League have had so far in terms of letting us bring players in.

"We have got a very, very small squad, the smallest in the league, and we've got a horrendous injury situation at the moment which isn't getting any better, so he said he will address that.

"It's difficult (to keep the players motivated) but at the end of the day we're footballers and we're football people.

"I nearly said we get paid to play football, but we've not been paid for a while. But they're football people and they've got a sense of pride about them.

"We want to make sure we're playing in this division next year. We can't control the fact that someone's taken 10 points away from us, we can't control the fact of people locking containers so we can't get equipment out of them, we can't control not being paid.

"With all these things, you can't control the uncontrollable, what we can do is try and control what goes on out there.

"Obviously we didn't control it in terms of keeping 11 men on the field, which is the first thing to address, but somewhere along the line, for us to be competitive, we need more players in the building and hopefully someone at the Football League will come to a little bit of common sense and enable us to do that."

February 18, 2012 at 11:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Report from

February 21, 2012

Any Pompey fan who wanted another round of being told what they wanted to hear by the administrator now in charge at Fratton Park will have been disappointed by Trevor Birch's comments following his first couple of days in the job.

But any believing it's time for straight talking and not fanciful notions about how everything is actually quite rosy in the PO4 8RA garden, will probably have been heartened by Birch's bluntness and honesty.

Clearly he is here to do a job and intends to do whatever it takes to get Pompey back on an even keel and looking like a saleable company - but he has admitted there will be many tough decisions along the way.


Birch told The News: 'We will need to look very closely at the cost base of the company going forward just to be able to get us through. We will have to look at staff numbers as well. I am not pulling the wool over anybody’s eyes, this isn’t going to be easy. We have enough money to get us through only a short time at the moment.

‘That is why we need to get a sale for this club very, very quickly. Let’s get to the end of the season first, we are looking no further than that at the moment. I am as confident as I can be we can do that – but it will need some sacrifices from people to get us there.

‘There are some payments due in terms of foreign clubs and to certain players which there will be uncertainty about. There may also well be further deferrals at a certain level. There will undoubtedly be redundancies. There has to be redundancies, the consequences are too great. Nothing has been decided yet. Work is still being done on it and it still needs further work. We are still reviewing it at the moment.’

Birch is confident prospective buyers will come forward, despite the club's huge debt, but added a downbeat note about his early talks with the Football League over any help they can give Pompey in keeping their squad competitive.

He said: ‘It is not totally encouraging, I have to say, just at the moment. They say that because of continuing outstanding debts they have to withhold money. What they don’t want to see is other clubs saying “hang on, we are still owed money by that club, therefore why are you allowing them to bring in more players. I will speak to them again today and put forward the case there are only 14 players.'



February 21, 2012 at 8:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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From the Guardian

Portsmouth administrator faces complaint over 'conflict of interest'

• Trevor Birch's firm had previously worked for Portsmouth

• Andrew Andronikou refers to accountants' governing body

Andrew Andronikou, above, is challenging the appointment of Trevor Birch as Portsmouth's administrator.

The appointment of Trevor Birch as the administrator of Portsmouth is facing a further challenge from other accountants who claim he should not have been given the role due to a conflict of interest.

Birch was appointed to the position at the high court on Friday instead of Andrew Andronikou, of UHY Hacker Young, who is the administrator of Portsmouth's holding company, Convers Sports Initiatives and, formerly, of the club itself.

Andronikou was set to be appointed as the administrator of the club again when Portsmouth went into administration for the second time last week; but Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs protested that Andronikou had "issues of conflict" given his previous roles. HMRC asked for Birch, formerly the chief executive at Chelsea, Leeds and Sheffield United when they were financially stricken, to be appointed instead.

Andronikou argued that Birch and his firm, PKF, have a conflict of interest because they have done audit work for Portsmouth, but the judge, Mr Justice Norris, approved Birch's appointment. Andronikou now says he is complaining to the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales. Its code of ethics advises that, if a firm has carried out "audit related work" for a company within the previous three years "an insolvency practitioner should conclude that it is not appropriate to take the insolvency appointment".

Complaints to the institute are also being considered by other accountants, the Guardian understands.

Birch's firm, PKF, advised on the takeover of Portsmouth in June by CSI, 80% owned by the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov, who is now accused of bank fraud in Lithuania. PKF carried out due diligence for CSI, analysing Portsmouth's parlous financial position, before Antonov bought the club from the Hong Kong businessman, Balram Chainrai. PKF was then appointed auditor to Portsmouth after the takeover and in December submitted an invoice of £20,000 to the club for that work.

Birch argued in court that he and his firm have no conflict of interest because PKF's audit work was only "preparatory" and the firm had not yet produced any accounts an outside party would rely on. Mr Justice Norris considered the issues, including the institute's code of ethics, and decided there was no conflict.

"HMRC approached me to be Portsmouth's administrator," Birch said. "We are satisfied there is no conflict and now want to do our best to sort out the problems at the club."

Andronikou, appointed as Portsmouth's administrator in 2010, oversaw the sale of the club to Chainrai, whose company, Portpin, held a secured mortgage. Portpin now also has a secured mortgage at CSI, and again at the club itself, for a debt of around £17m. Birch has indicated that as administrator of the club he will have a duty to examine the validity of that mortgage.

HMRC, which is owed around £2m in unpaid taxes by Portsmouth, said in a statement welcoming Birch's arrival that Andronikou, given his appointment at CSI and previous roles with the various Portsmouth football clubs, "would present issues of conflict".

Andronikou denies this and said his firm is making a complaint to the institute. "This is a travesty," he said. "This is a clear conflict of interest. It was incredible for the judge not to take that into account."


February 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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‘HMRC approached me to be Portsmouth’s administrator,’ Mr Birch said. ‘We are satisfied there is no conflict and now want to do our best to sort out the problems at the club.’

Smacks to me of desperate measures by Andonikou to try to stop the New Administrators so as to protect own interests.

Perhaps afraid of something being uncovered / discovered by Birch.


February 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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