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Portsmouth live to fight another day

Portsmouth was given a stay of execution today as bosses were granted extra time to fight a winding-up petition. The club faced High Court proceedings over a multi-million-pound unpaid tax bill after talks with Revenue and Customs failed.

The Premier League's bottom club were given seven days to produce a statement of affairs to HMRC to detail their exact financial position, with the matter being heard before a judge at the first available date after February 19.

Nigel Hood, representing Pompey, had asked for more than the week granted by Mrs Registrar Derrett but the time gives them breathing space in attempting to find a fifth owner of their turbulent season.

"Two offers have been received from what appear to be serious purchasers," said Hood.

Balram Chainrai took charge last week when Ali Al Faraj defaulted payments on a loan, but the businessman is not interested in owning the club in the long term and chief executive Peter Storrie has been looking for new investors willing to take on the club's debts.

HMRC claim Pompey owe them more than £11million in total. A figure of £7.4million of VAT is included in the winding-up petition, which Pompey are disputing.

Gregory Mitchell QC, representing HMRC, said: "It's quite clear beyond any doubt at all that this company is insolvent. They have failed to provide any evidence at all as to their solvency. There are many debts and they are unpaid."

Registrar Derrett said she had taken into consideration the consequences of a winding-up order - such as rescheduling the Premier League this season - but was forthright in her concerns about Pompey's situation.

"I'm very concerned about the financial situation of this company," she said. "There is a real risk that they are trading while insolvent."

She also took into consideration what Mitchell described as a "flurry of late activity", with offers for the club being made and finance director Tanya Robins submitting a witness statement outlining potential financial restructuring at Pompey.

Hood said any move to force the club to wind up would have "very serious consequences".

"There would be irreparable harm caused not only to the suppliers but to the employees, 600 staff, suppliers, people who have paid in advance for their season tickets would lose their money," he said.

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