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The Week That Was

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Judgment day for Portsmouth, Cardiff City, and Southend United as all three faced HMRC over unpaid taxes on Wednesday gone. Pompey received a stay of execution until next week when the club will try to persuade the court that it’s new owners, the fourth lot this season, just need time to get their finances together.

The club owes the taxman £11.5m and if it’s unsuccessful in coming to a settlement with HMRC, Portsmouth FC will be no more.

What was it about Portsmouth and tax issues this week? Ex-boss Harry Redknapp appeared in court with ex-owner Milan Mandaric on charges of tax evasion relating to alleged payments made to Redknapp on which no tax was paid. Both deny the charges and were given unconditional bail.

The trouble at Pompey overshadowed the cases at Cardiff and Southend who were both given 28 day stays of execution. The Bluebirds owe around £1.7m while the Shrimpers need to cough up just under £700,000. Interesting take on Southend’s plight over on twohundredpercent as well.

Things are even worse at Chester City – the club’s Deva Stadium straddles both England and Wales, fact fans – as the club failed to fulfil league fixtures with Forest Green Rovers and Wrexham. The game at Forest Green couldn’t go ahead as Chester’s usual coach company wouldn’t transport the players, because of unpaid bills, so the players were left stranded in Chester.

Oh, and the players would have refused to play anyway since they hadn’t been paid either. Spare a thought for the Chester players too, they aren’t on £140,000 per week or whatever. They’re lads on fairly normal wages with mortgages and families.

Sunday’s home clash with local rivals Wrexham was called off after the local safety advisory group refused a safety certificate because the club couldn’t afford to pay the policing bill.

More games are sure to be cancelled, the league has served them with notices for various rule breaches, and supporters are so despondent the City Fans United group has called for the club to be disbanded and replaced by a new, supporters’ trust-owned club.

It made for a pretty depressing week.

In fact, football finances are so bad that politicians are even giving clubs a verbal bashing now. A few weeks back you might remember Gordon Brown warning that debts were too high at the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United.

The irony that clubs got away with this because of policies his government supported wasn’t lost on us. It’s not like the FSF didn’t meet with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on numerous occasions warning this was inevitable.

Nevertheless they got there in the end – nothing to do with the fact there’s now votes in criticising debt-laden clubs. But someone really should have told government minister Sion Simon who earlier this week suggested it was best  to “leave it to the football authorities” in a debate on football finance and debt this week. Do you want to tell him or shall we?

At least Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd was on the ball calling for stricter regulation to prevent them being run in a “reckless” fashion.

Amy Fearn also became the first female referee to take charge of a Football League game at Coventry v Notts Forest. It almost passed without anyone noticing although Clinton Morrison apparently thought she did well!

Another first in Argentina as Banco Hipotecario, the country’s leading mortgage provider decided to sponsor of Racing Club. So what, we hear you ask? Well the novelty is that they’re paying NOT to have their name emblazoned across the strip. The move’s apparently went down brilliantly with fans and the company’s received all kinds of publicity.

Until next week!

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