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Football | England

Pompey future to be clarified in April



Cash-strapped Portsmouth's future as an English Football League club could become clearer by April 19, a judge said on Thursday.

The third-tier side, who only a few seasons ago were in the Premier League and won the FA Cup in 2008 before losing the 2010 final, have been threatened with expulsion from the Football League after a series of financial collapses.

Portsmouth have been through the hands of several owners in recent years and are now bottom of third-tier League One with relegation to League Two, the lowest rung of the Football League, all but certain if the south coast club are not expelled.

Thursday's hearing at London's High Court was supposed to confirm a date for administrators PKF to attempt to gain permission to sell the club's Fratton Park ground, which is controlled by Hong Kong-based former owner Balram Chainrai's company Portpin.

Fans' group the Pompey Supporters Trust's bid to buy Portsmouth hinges on being able to purchase the ground, which has been Portsmouth's home since the club was founded in 1898, for around £2.65 million ($4.04 million).

A PKF statement read: "We are pressing ahead with the case that is seeking the court's consent for the disposal of Fratton Park to the PST.

"The court has this morning confirmed that the case will be heard by 19 April at the latest, which will enable us to meet the Football League's deadline for the sale of the club, subject to a favourable ruling.

"We hope that, in the next few days, the court will be able to set a specific date for this hearing."

Portsmouth were placed into administration by a judge in February last year after a court was told the club had an unpaid tax bill of around £2 million and owed other creditors about the same.

Football League chiefs have insisted the only offer to buy the club that they will give their blessing to is the one put forward by the PST, having snubbed the latest rival offer from financier Keith Harris.

And PST spokesman Colin Farmery, while slightly taken aback by Thursday's proceedings, was confident the bid would go through.

"That is a bit unexpected but this is Pompey after all, there is always something coming out of left field. But from our discussions the Football League are quite clear they will only consider the bid from the PST."

Portsmouth, whose slide down the league ladder has been accelerated by points deductions for entering administration, now face being stripped of 10 points by the Football league should they exit their latest administration.

Their fall from the ranks of England's elite clubs was further emphasised on Wednesday when former Portsmouth players Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari both scored for AC Milan in a 2-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League that left the favourites on the brink of a last-16 exit.

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