Birch battles to meet make-or-break wages deadline

Pompey administrator Trevor Birch faces a race against time
Pompey administrator Trevor Birch faces a race against time

Trevor Birch has six weeks.

Six weeks to slash Pompey’s bloated wage bill or face the possibility of both potential owners walking away.

Portpin have already submitted their CVA proposals, to be heard at a creditors meeting on June 25.

The Pompey Supporters’ Trust held talks with Birch on Monday and intimate their bid will be made next week.

However, both have stressed any deal cannot be completed unless the £9.5m wage bill is substantially reduced.

That is the reality facing Pompey’s administrators as they seek to keep the club alive.

As the only bid on the table at present, Portpin’s comes with several conditions.

One of which centres on restructuring the wages, whether it be renegotiated contracts or compromises.

If their CVA is granted there will be a 28-day ‘cooling off’ period to finalise matters leading to an anticipated takeover at the end of next month – effectively six weeks away.

It is a similar time frame for the Trust, who hope to have their proposals voted on at the same June 25 CVA meeting.

Birch’s aim is to have a payroll of £4m to £5m in League One.

And he knows failure to get anywhere near that during the next six weeks could cost him both Portpin and the Trust.

He said: ‘Portpin have made certain conditions over their proposals and one of which is on the wage bill.

‘They want it reduced and have said if this cannot be done then they cannot complete. At that point they will have to take a view on what to do next.

‘The Trust are going to be saying the same thing, which is understandable. Both are eager to reduce such outgoings.

‘Nobody wants to take on paying somebody £2m a year in League One. It does not stack up, you have to be realistic about things.

‘Portpin haven’t given a certain figure, but the wage bill needs to be reduced to meet their conditions and that is something we are working on all the time.

‘They have got 28 days after the creditors’ meeting to complete any deal – that is six weeks from now and during that time players have to leave.

‘Within that there is likely to be movement, I just don’t know how many. But we are trying to get it down to £4m to £5m in League One for this season.

‘I am confident of doing it before the end of the transfer window, but it has to be done before then.

‘It’s just a question of time and we will just have to see how it goes and keep plugging away at it.’

The likes of Luke Varney, David Norris, Liam Lawrence and Erik Huseklepp are all up for sale.

Birch anticipates transfer bids for those players.

Tal Ben Haim and Kanu have already been approached about compromise agreements and talks are continuing to be held.

In addition, Hayden Mullins, Dave Kitson and Aaron Mokoena are available for transfer although may struggle for buyers.

And Birch is adamant work is going on to ensure the big earners do leave Fratton Park.

He added: ‘We need players to step up to the plate.

‘I am confident they will be doing it if the alternative is liquidation and they will get nothing.

‘So in that case there actually is no alternative.

‘Unpaid wages the players are due and future wages need to be compromised. Those payments are going to be spread over time.

‘There are four or five who might have to leave under compromise agreements, others we are looking to sell.

‘There is interest, I know that but no bids on the table at present.

‘It is just ongoing.’