How parachute payments can halt Pompey’s plummet

Tal Ben Haim. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122542-039)
Tal Ben Haim. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122542-039)
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Never before has the Premier League commanded such prosperity.

BT’s intervention as the newest challenger to Sky drove up the latest television rights deal to a record £3bn over three years – a 71-per-cent increase.

Of course, Pompey bid a tear-stained farewell to those golden sands in the summer of 2010, yet have crucially managed to remain in touching distance.

It wasn’t merely those with Premier League credentials who benefited from the television rights bonanza, those entitled to parachute payments also reaped such rich rewards.

The Blues have 11 months of claims remaining for such a jackpot, a period which has seen the anticipated windfall rocketing from £5.8m to around £9m.

Indeed a priceless sum for a club required to honour player compromise agreements to the tune of £6.72m from May 2013 to July 2016.

The News have obtained documentation from Companies House which reveal the precise extent of legacy debts which must be dealt with by the community ownership.

On August 30, £1.4m was distributed among six ex-Pompey players in the form of agreed lump-sum payments.

That includes £650,000 to Tal Ben Haim, a player who from May this year was owed another £1,633,333.36 as part of his compensation package.

The others were Liam Lawrence, Michael Brown and Richard Hughes (all £200,000), Dave Kitson (£150,000) and Kelvin Etuhu (£3,000).

In addition, the same month saw the club repay the £1.45m loan from Portsmouth City Council which was so vital in removing Portpin’s charge from the ground, plus £26,000 interest.

The other loan which enabled the fans to take ownership came from property developer Stuart Robinson.

The first of 12 monthly instalments to Robinson, each worth £112,000, was also fulfilled in August.

Bankrolling such hefty payouts was the arrival of around £5.5m in the form of the scheduled August parachute payment.

Initially club owners expected £3,378,575 last month – then came those renegotiated television rights.

Those in the upper echelons of the Trust had initially been made aware back in December that tantalisingly may be the case.

They remained quiet, though, eager not to alert Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir to a possible game-changer in the long and bloody conflict.

It appears, for once, the city of Portsmouth retained a secret.

From this point, 11 monthly parachute payments remain, evenly spread and crucial in fulfilling those legacy bills which remain a companion until July 2016.

As of last May, there were 25 ex-Pompey players from the last three-and-a-half years owed £6.72m, with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) possessing three inter-creditor deeds over the club and its assets as insurance.

The PFA have been a constant in securing the future of the Blues, an ally in the battle against liquidation.

Those many players owed deferred wages, bonuses and on often lucrative contracts were under no obligation to sacrifice some of the money entitled to them and seek a settlement.

Under the football creditors rule, they would have received 100 per cent of it, providing no club liquidation.

As it was, by August 10, 2012, all senior players had been removed from the payroll to allow Trevor Birch to keep the club trading and pursue a buyer.

The result is people like Aaron Mokoena, Jamie Ashdown, Ricardo Rocha, David Nugent, Jason Pearce, David Norris, David James and Hermann Hreidarsson need paying.

In fact, there are 21 players currently receiving regular payments until July 2016. It is costing Pompey at least £108,449.70 every month.

Others are down to collect lump-sum payments, such as Erik Huseklepp, due £20,000 in both January 2014 and January 2015.

Kanu is scheduled to receive three lump sums of £51,771.50 in each of March 2014, 2015 and 2016 to settle his £155,314.50 figure.

It could have been considerably more had he won his reported £3m claim heard by the Football Association’s finance disciplinary committee in December last year.

Even Hassan Yebda is owed £264,491.44 following a season-long loan from Benfica which saw him make only 23 appearances.

Of that 2009-10 campaign, Aruna Dindane (£176,245.03) and Steve Finnan (£88,312.50) are also owed.

Others include Stephen Henderson (£27,458.32), Luke Varney (£153,818), Joel Ward (£20,206.57), Greg Halford (£162,802.76) and Benjani (£214,572.73).

Leading the way, though, are Mullins (£632,281.32), who receives 28 monthly payments, Lawrence (£616,666.54) and Kitson (£608,333.36).

Ben Haim, of course, tops the lot and receives £20,833.33 a month in payments until July 2016 having been at Pompey for two administrations.

Encouragingly there is a club projection of December 2015 to clear all PFA debts early, with accelerators such as gate receipts and player sales.

Regardless, there’s around £9m parachute payments designated to settle all of them.