Portsmouth fans get green light to buy club

LONDON (AFP) - Fans of troubled English third-tier side Portsmouth were celebrating on Wednesday after moving a step closer to taking control of the club.

Financial difficulties saw the 2008 FA Cup winners placed into administration in February last year and they are currently fighting to avoid relegation to the fourth division after plummeting down the English league system.

However, accountants managing the club's affairs said on Wednesday that a problem concerning the sale of Portsmouth's Fratton Park stadium had been solved, paving the way for the Pompey Supporters' Trust (PST) to complete a buy-out.

A senior British judge had been due to scrutinise the proposed sale of the ground at a court hearing in London.

However, lawyers told him that an agreement had been reached between administrators BDO and the club's former owners, Portpin.

The judge, Peter Smith, said he was pleased that agreement had been reached and that Portsmouth - nicknamed Pompey - would be preserved.

Supporters who had travelled to London's High Court for the hearing applauded and cheered when the news was announced.

"This is a historic day for Portsmouth Football Club and for Pompey fans everywhere," said PST chairman Ashley Brown in a statement.

"At last, the tough work done over the last year is over and we can start to rebuild our club. Pompey fans are now days away from owning and running our club and becoming the biggest community-owned football club in the country.

"We have a lot of people to thank, and much more to say, but will do that once the details of today's (Wednesday's) settlement are finalised.

"For now, we would like to offer heartfelt thanks to Pompey fans all over the world who have pledged money and have saved our club from liquidation.

"Now the next chapter of hard work begins to transform our club into something the community of Portsmouth can be proud of, both on and off the field."