Portsmouth appeal for UEFA licence

LONDON - Debt-ravaged Portsmouth are to apply for a UEFA licence to play in next season's Europa League after reaching the FA Cup final, the relegated Premier League club's administrator said.

Portsmouth stunned Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 on Sunday to reach the Wembley final on May 15 and provide some consolation to fans the day after the team's relegation from English football's top flight.

Portsmouth, who went into administration in February saddled with debts of 70 million pounds, are likely to qualify for the Europa League by reaching the Cup final against Chelsea, but cannot take up the place without a UEFA license.

Premier League leaders Chelsea are on course for a Champions League berth, handing a Europa League spot to the Cup runner-up.

"They haven't applied for one (license) and it is something we are looking at the moment. We're hoping to have applied for it by the end of the week," administrator Andrew Andronikou told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

The FA and Premier League look at criteria such as whether they feel the club is financially stable enough to complete the European fixtures before submitting the license application to UEFA by May 31. The FA gave a March deadline for clubs to apply.

Andronikou was hopeful the club would be able to negotiate with players to waive the bonuses they are entitled to for reaching the final under the terms of their contracts.

"All the players have got clauses within their contracts, to do with qualifying for Europe or playing in the Cup final or whatever, and we're looking at those right now," he said.

"The players have been supportive from day one, I don't believe it will it will be a problem (to get them to waive)."

Administrators were still calculating the bonuses but local media said they were at least 50,000 pounds per player.

Fans must find talk of bonuses something of a sore point after goalkeeper David James's assessment in local media at the weekend that winning the FA Cup in 2008 had been financially "crippling" because of the monetary rewards players received. Andronikou said the bonuses paid after that triumph were "certainly a contribution to the current position".

He hoped the club would be out of administration by the end of May, adding he did not know how many players it would have to sell before starting life in the Championship.

"We are having to review the whole situation. We can't afford a Premiership squad in the Championship," he said.

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