After 16 months of commitment and hard work, legal firm Verisona celebrated its success in providing the business support, legal representation and financial management needed by ‘Portsmouth Community Football Club’ (“PCFC”) a consortium including ‘Pompey Supporters Trust’, in order to take ownership of Portsmouth Football Club.
At the end of 2011, Verisona began the preparatory work so that when Portsmouth FC (2010) Ltd was officially placed in Administration in March 2012, PCFC was ready to hit the ground running.
The firm has worked tirelessly with P C FC and its partners to create and submit the bid and conducted long and, at times, robust negotiations with the Administrators that eventually resulted in it achieving preferred bidder status. There then rose the immense challenge of carrying out all Due Diligence, including the examination of all contractual liabilities, and negotiating agreements with the football authorities. This included the Premier League in relation to outstanding parachute payments and particularly satisfying the Football League (and the FA) in relation to the transfer of the (so called) Golden Share and the terms for admission of PCFC as a member. There were also complex negotiations with the Professional Footballers Association in relation to the monies owed to former players. Successful conclusion of these negotiations was critical in ensuring a smooth transition of ownership.
Verisona also managed the collection, recording and accountability of over £1.5 million of contributions made by fans who pledged their financial support.
Finally, the firm liaised with administrators acting for owners of the land around Fratton Park together with the local council, the proposed developer and many other stakeholders, keeping everyone together and on the same page before even facing the opposition.
Individuals in financial difficulty
- Assistance with financial difficulties, personal guarantees, statutory demands, bankruptcy issues and individual voluntary arrangements
- Dealings with the Official Receiver, The Insolvency Service and trustees in bankruptcy (including possession actions in relation to residential property)
- Insolvency-related disputes and litigation.
Businesses in financial difficulty
- Advice on business refinancing and restructuring
- Advice on and management of insolvency procedures
- Negotiations with trade creditors, HMRC (including ‘time to pay’ agreements), landlords, banks, factoring companies, financiers and insolvency practitioners
- Business sales.
- Technical advice, transactional support and litigation services locally and nationally
- Assistance with investigations
- Insolvency-related disputes and litigation (including construction disputes)
- Personal insolvency issues
- Asset and debt recovery
- Asset and business sales
- Property issues
- Employment issues
- Cross-border assistance.
- Advice on issuing statutory demands and bankruptcy petitions
- Maximising recoveries
- Retention of title issues
- Enforcement of personal guarantees
- Representation at creditor meetings.
Buyers of distressed or insolvent businesses
- Advice on purchasing distressed or insolvent businesses
- Risk assessment and due diligence
- Support for valuation and price negotiation
- Related property, leasehold and employment issues.
Dealing with creditors’ demands for personal guarantee payments
The company had substantial liabilities to the bank and its landlord. These liabilities were personally guaranteed, jointly and severally, by both directors.
The bank and landlord both called in the personal guarantees by pursuing our client, rather than the co-director who had little cash or assets.
As a result our client was required to pay the guarantees totalling tens of thousands of pounds.
Claiming a share of the guarantee payments from the co-director
We were instructed to pursue a claim against the co-director for a contribution of half the amount our client had paid.
The co-director instructed solicitors to resist the claim, alleging they had little or no involvement or control in the business and so should not have to contribute.
We built a case based on the detailed consideration of historic company records which demonstrated the extent of each directors’ involvement in the company. We supplied extensive witness statements and secured the disclosure of financial and other company records relevant to the case.
A number of witnesses also gave evidence at trial.
Winning and enforcing the claim
We secured a judgment at trial against their former co-director for half of the sum our client paid under the personal guarantees, together with interest and their legal costs.
Subsequently we took enforcement action to recover payment and, despite the co-director’s limited means, successfully recovered the full sum for our client.
Former Director and Shareholder of Limited Company
The background to the situation was complicated, yet Verisona Law quickly grasped the essentials and prepared clear arguments with a minimum of wasted time and cost.
Throughout a worrying period, their calm approach allowed me to fulfil my group function with a restored confidence, having been distracted prior to Verisona Law’s appointment by the aggressive and unjustified stance of the Secretary of State.
I have no hesitation in recommending Verisona Law to anyone in a similar position.
Individual - Chairman of a group of companies in the construction industry
"I met Mike Dyer, Head of Commercial Law at Verisona, during October 2012 and they were already heavily involved in the bid for ownership of Portsmouth Football Club. Both he and the Verisona team have been an absolute pleasure to work with ever since.
Verisona handled all legal aspects of the takeover and were available to both myself and the bid team 24/7. One of their greatest attributes is their flexibility in working to get the job done. I never once felt that calling during out of office hours was inappropriate, and we would often have conversations at 9, 10 and 11 o’clock at night, as well as weekends.
We have established an excellent working relationship with Verisona. The firm got very involved in all aspects of the takeover, looked after us and truly cared about our success.
I have worked with multiple Commercial Law firms during my 30 year business career and Verisona are by far the best that I have come across.
We have continued to use Verisona as our legal support post-administration and the firm gives us advice and support as we establish PCFC and get to grips with running the Club. Verisona are accessible, approachable, proactive and work very hard to earn their success."
Portsmouth Community Football Club Limited
"Verisona were my first choice for legal help on the Aldershot restructure and I was not disappointed with their help and advice throughout the case. They were proactive and commercial throughout a very difficult assignment which covered a number of technical areas.
Their Football experience was invaluable and this allied to just great service went a long way in ensuring we managed to achieve a successful turnaround.
I would not hesitate to use Verisona again on any sport related matter or indeed on any other matter".
Aldershot Town FC (1992) Limited (in Administration)