FA Cup finalists Portsmouth set to appeal for European reprieve

LONDON: FA Cup finalists Portsmouth are set to ask the English Football Association if they can play in the Europa League next season following their shock semi-final win over Tottenham.Under normal circumstances, Avram Grant’s side would be guaranteed a place in Europe after reaching next month’s FA Cup final against Chelsea as the Blues are already certain to qualify for the Champions League.

But Pompey, whose relegation from the Premier League was confirmed 24 hours before the 2-0 win over Spurs, did not apply for a UEFA club licence ahead of the March deadline for English teams to lodge paperwork with the country’s governing body.

The club had just gone into administration at the time and there were fears it could go out of business, but it is now felt that a new owner will be secured before next season as their cup success has made them a more attractive investment.

Cash-strapped Pompey, who have debts of over 76 million pounds, will receive parachute payments following relegation from the Premier League this season and the prospect of playing in the Europa League would also offer extra income. That has convinced Portsmouth’s administrator Andrew Andronikou to appeal to the FA to over the European licence. “It will be an uphill struggle in terms of making the appeal but nonetheless we will try,” Andronikou said on Monday.

“It was such a marvellous occasion and such a wonderful result for the club, and it has already triggered further interest.

“We had one party who had shown interest, they were hovering, a real significant consortium with sporting interests, and this morning (Monday) they came to step up their interest.”

Andronikou also confirmed Pompey will speak to French club Lens over allowing Ivory Coast striker Aruna Dindane to play in the final without triggering a four-million-pound payment that comes with his 22nd appearance for Pompey.

“Under his contract there was a bullet payment after his 22nd appearance, he has played 21 games and we are looking to have a meeting with Lens to negotiate,” Andronikou added.

“I’m sure they will see it is in the interest of the club, themselves and the player for there to be a compromise.”

Andronikou is also confident Grant will have a full squad to choose from for the showpiece against Chelsea despite some of the players having expensive clauses in their contracts that could be triggered by winning the cup.

“We seem to have everything under control at the moment and will, as usual, put out a strong team against Wigan on Wednesday,” Andronikou said on Sky Sports News.

“The issue was regarding FA Cup appearances. Now we have another problem, albeit a very welcome one, for the final. I’m sure we’ll have a full squad to play against Chelsea in May.” — AFP

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