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Portsmouth Football Club to make 85 staff redundant

Thu 11th Mar 2010 | Football Club Administration

The club’s administrator, Andrew Andronikou announced yesterday that up to 85 employees would be made redundant. Whilst it is no comfort, Peter Storrie, the chief executive is said to have accepted a paycut of up to 40%.

When the sacked secretaries and ticket-sellers work out that he will still be making about £480,000 per annum, they may wonder whether the right people have been targeted in the job cuts announced yesterday.

Other employees have agreed to take cuts or deferrals to their wages, but although Andronikou said that “one or two players” had talked about an unspecified pay reduction, on the whole “the players are very much protected by the PFA and I am unable to make playing cuts, nor would I want to. They are the shop window and will attract buyers to the club.”

The players will notice a tightening of purse strings, though, with Andronikou promising that every penny is being counted at the Premier League club, who are more than £80 million in debt.

Their support staff have been cut and there will no overnight stay before or after Monday evening's match away to Liverpool. Moreover, half of the 500-mile round trip, which would normally be made by air, will now be made by coach.

Andronikou has yet to put a figure on the savings achieved by the job losses, but if it is less than £8,000 a week, it does not take a maths wizard to work out that one single executive or playing staff redundancy might have kept them all in work. “What I'm on, some of the players earn in three days,” Mark Crawford, who lost his job as a warehouseman, said. “I can’t see that they're saving a lot of money sacking me.”

Mark Jacob, the executive director, has left, but his position was unpaid. The others to go worked in the media department, PFC TV, marketing, ticket sales, reception, the training ground and hospitality.

Retail jobs have gone with the closure of club shops. About 20 have been cut from among the 166 full-time staff, a number that includes players, and the rest from 154 part-time employees. However, those numbers tell their own story. Birmingham City, Portsmouth’s most recent opponents, manage on a much smaller payroll. They employ 70 to 80 full-time staff, with a part-time strength of about 30.

“I’ve seen far worse,” Andronikou said. “It [the situation] was driven by emotions and the need to compete with other clubs, and financially the company lost its focus. But if we are relegated, we will have to review the situation again. The revenue streams in the Championship won’t support this level of staffing.”

With assurances from the FA that prize money and other revenues from their FA Cup run will not be withheld, and a financial guarantee from Balram Chainrai, the owner, that the club will fulfil their fixtures this season, his attention can now turn to finding a buyer.

Two parties have already provided proof of funds, but whether they will consider the £30 million asking price a good deal for a club likely to be in the Coca-Cola Championship next season remains to be seen. “There will be a buyer,” Andronikou said. “I just need to make sure it’s the right buyer.”

However, there was some good news for Portsmouth who expect to be told today that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs accept the club have entered administration legitimately.

Pompey have a nine-point deduction in the Barclays Premier League hanging over them for entering voluntary administration but the validity of Andrew Andronikou taking charge of their affairs was challenged by HMRC.

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