FORMER Pompey owner Balram Chainrai could make a dramatic return to the club as a last resort in a move that could split fans.
Representatives for Mr Chainrai and his firm Portpin gave the strongest indication yet at yesterday’s creditors’ meeting that the former owner is waiting in the wings to make a reluctant return to Fratton Park.
They said: ‘Portpin and Mr Chainrai have made it clear that he will not let the club go into liquidation. It’s got too much of a proud history for that to have to happen.’
Mr Chainrai, who is owed £18.6m, previously stressed the club’s administrator Trevor Birch should only call on him as a last resort to save Pompey.
But yesterday Mr Birch said, if necessary, he will go back to Mr Chainrai in his quest to find a new owner.
Representatives for Portpin, including Mr Chainrai’s brother Deepak, and Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI), Pompey’s former parent company, voted against the administrator’s proposals amended by HMRC.
The proposal was for Pompey to exit administration through a CVA, with the liquidation of operating company Portsmouth Football Club Limited (2010), before an HMRC investigation into its affairs.
In Mr Birch’s initial proposal, which was passed, he is looking to find the club a new buyer, bring it out of administration through a CVA, or liquidate the company should this not happen.
Colin Farmery, editor of website True Blue Army, said Mr Chainrai’s return could be ‘damaging’ to the club.
He said: ‘Any prospect of Balram Chainrai coming back would be an unfortunate turn of events because it would split the fan base.
‘There’s some fans out there that think he’s part of the problem and won’t see him supporting the club, but another part of the fans that would want it to survive.
‘It would be damaging.’
Bob Beech, of SOS Pompey, said: ‘If you said to me Balram Chainrai or liquidation, I would take liquidation.
‘Every time he gets to the gates at Frogmore Road Pompey’s problems get worse. Fans need to take their heads out of the sand, he’s not the saviour.’
Bill Gillon, owner of website Pompey Online, said: ‘Fans have been asking themselves if he comes back would it be preferable over liquidation? I would have him back if that was the choice but his responsibilities in terms of what he wants to sell the club have to be nailed down.’
Football finance expert professor Tony Arnold, of the University of Leicester, said: ‘If he thinks liquidation seriously threatens his £18.6m then even quite a lot of new money that gets him the parachute payments over the next two years would leave him better off than under liquidation.’