An out of court settlement was reached by BDO and creditors Portpin, prior to a high court hearing which was due to resolve a dispute on the valuation of the club's grounds and whether or not the PST would be able to buy Portsmouth FC out of administration. The deal, which is still subject to Football League approval and the necessary signing of paperwork, would see Portsmouth FC becomes the biggest fan-owned club in the country.
The Pinsent Masons team advising on the deal is led by Trevor Watkins, Global Head of Sport and Tom Withyman of the firm's restructuring team assisted by Bhal Mander and Jenna Sutton in a team that includes four other fee earners.
Trevor Watkins commented:
“With football under increasing scrutiny in terms of how it administers its finances and significant measures being introduced to curtail extravagant spending, the Portsmouth FC administration could well be the last major insolvency that hits the industry. We very much hope so. This is, perhaps, the most complex football administration ever seen. Testament must go to the considerable effort put in to reach this point by all stakeholders, reflecting the never-say-die attitude of all those involved at the club and its supporters. There are still steps that need to be completed before the take over is final but this is a major step forward.
"Once the PST are in control, sticking to sound financial principles, avoiding any temptation to spend for success and ensuring ongoing fan engagement will be critical to long term success. For now though, this is a tremendous step forward and the future is suddenly much brighter for Portsmouth FC. Once the deal is complete, the club will join the south coast footballing renaissance that has seen AFC Bournemouth, Brighton and Southampton all progress dynamically in recent times."
Watkins, who led the supporter rescue of AFC Bournemouth in 1997 and then served 5 years as Chairman added, "As guardians of the club, once the Football League has ratified the transaction, the representative owners will still have difficult decisions to make that will, in keeping with football, find support, opposition and much debate. No longer on the outside looking in, there will no doubt be considerable pride, expectation and anticipation amongst the new owners and wider fan base. A deal will come at the beginning of a new, financially responsible era for the football industry across Europe. It is a sector where we are already seeing commercial rights continue to increase in value and complexity on a domestic and global basis, in turn driving the inexorable growth in the international appetite for investment across the business of football.”
Tom Withyman added,
“We’re delighted to have achieved this milestone in one of the most complicated administrations in football history We are proud to have worked throughout the last 14 months to bring this matter to this significant achievement and look forward to the completion of the deal.”
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Trevor Watkins lead the supporter rescue of AFC Bournemouth, becoming Chairman and overseeing the development of a new stadium. He is now regarded as one of the leading advisors and commentators on the business of football and is Global Head of Sport at Pinsent Masons overseeing 90 lawyers working across the UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia.