Portsmouth's crisis plumbed new depths yesterday, with the positions of manager Avram Grant and chief executive Peter Storrie in significant doubt after the club opened negotiations to sell Younes Kaboul and Asmir Begovic to Tottenham without their knowledge.
Storrie admitted that his position has ‘‘in many ways’’ become untenable.
‘‘It makes you wonder what one is doing there at the moment,’’ he said. ‘‘Clearly they had to sell a player to allow us to have the finances to pay wages, pay some creditors and keep this great club alive.
"I didn’t know anything about it until I came into the office. Surely, let the experts get involved in getting the right price if someone has to go.’’
Grosvenor Basingstoke Properties Ltd has joined the winding-up petition that was lodged against Portsmouth last month by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
On yet another chaotic day at Fratton Park, the club’s website was even taken offline for about four hours before Portsmouth settled an outstanding bill with their service provider. Non-playing staff were also informed that they might not be paid on time today.
Grant missed two press conferences last week after it emerged that Mike Williamson was likely to join Newcastle and, having repeatedly said that he needed to add, rather than lose players, is now facing the prospect of Kaboul returning to Tottenham after just two years, along with Begovic.
Portsmouth need to raise funds and they may have to sell players to meet the January wage-bill, due today. It would be the fourth time in five months that wages had not been paid on time.
Storrie has become increasingly sidelined from the day-to-day operations at Fratton Park and executive director Mark Jacob and Danny Azougy, an Israeli lawyer, are largely now running the club on behalf of new owner Ali al-Faraj.
With Tottenham entitled to a sell-on clause of around £2m (€2.3m) for Kaboul, any deal is likely to be worth around £6m (€6.9m) to Portsmouth.
The future of David James also remains unresolved, but Stoke City hope to finalise a loan deal for the England goalkeeper until the end of the season.
Although Portsmouth have further instalments on past player transfers due by next Tuesday, the Premier League will allow them to make loan signings or free transfers before the closure of the January window at 5pm on Monday.
While key players are likely to leave, the club are still trying to bring in others on loan, including Tottenham’s Jamie O’Hara and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, who arrived from Spartak Moscow on Thursday.
Portsmouth are around £60m (€69m) in debt and are due to appear before the High Court next month to face a winding-up petition that was issued by HMRC over alleged unpaid taxes. The club will dispute HMRC’s claim as well as that of Grosvenor Basingstoke Properties Ltd.