LONDON - West Ham United's co-owner David Gold said on Friday he was prepared to lend debt-ridden Premier League rivals Portsmouth 10 million pounds to prevent them from going into liquidation.
The south-coast club are bottom of the table and face a winding-up petition from the British government's Revenue and Customs office over an unpaid tax bill of 11.7 million pounds on March 1.
"I am prepared to lend them 10 million pounds. The people who caused their problems are no longer there. So you can't take it out on the people who are left, the major people left are the fans," Gold said in an interview with Talksport radio.
"I am not trying to prevent them from going into administration. I am trying to be there in the event there would be a likelihood of them going into liquidation.
"I'd expect to get my money back - which would be an advance on their parachute payment if they get relegated - in August," added Gold, who took control of West Ham last month with business partner David Sullivan after the pair owned Birmingham City for 17 years.
"By that time, the transfer window would have opened and they could also sell some players.
"I would expect they would have been deducted points for going into administration, they might be on their way to the third tier, but the important thing is they would still be in existence."
Gold admitted that if West Ham, who are one point above the relegation zone and could feasibly be in a worse position if Portsmouth folded, had been safe or chasing a European place, he would probably have not made the offer.
"The first thing is what impact will (Portsmouth folding) have on West Ham? So there is no question that part of me is being driven by that," he said.
"Having said that, I then look to other issues and if it was happening to us, I would say, 'who is there to help us?'"
On Thursday, Portsmouth asked the Premier League for permission to sell players outside the transfer window in an attempt to raise funds.
The request has been passed to the English FA and football's world governing body FIFA who will have the final say on whether to waive the rules.
The winter transfer window was open from January 1 to February 1 and clubs cannot sell players again until after the end of this season.
However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters on Friday Portsmouth should not be allowed to sell players now.
"I believe it would set a precedent difficult to change afterwards. That means every mis-management after any season could make the same request and you could not forbid it," he said.
If Portsmouth are wound-up their players' contracts would cease to be assets of the club which would lose its membership of the Premier League.
That would have a huge impact on the competition, with the points clubs have won against them this season deducted from their current totals.comments