PORTSMOUTH were last night celebrating a significant court victory over the taxman that should see the club back in the hands of Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai by the end of this month.

A High Court judge dismissed a claim by HM Revenue & Customs that it was unfair for “football creditors”

such as players and other clubs to have preferential treatment when it came to Portsmouth’s debts being paid.

The ruling by Mr Justice Mann secures the future of Portsmouth and will allow the club to emerge from administration and to be sold again to Chainrai – who initially placed them in administration after seizing control of the club in January in order to recoup a loan.

The judge said the sale of the club could now go ahead and Chainrai is the only realistic buyer.

Chainrai’s representative Ashok Patel said: “We are very pleased with the decision because we are the only purchaser the judge mentioned in his judgment.

“Mr Chainrai was very happy because it opens the way for the only realistic solution, which is for his company to purchase the club and stabilise the club and to continue in the Championship.”

The HMRC’s barrister, Gregory Mitchell QC, had argued Portsmouth’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was “unfair and seriously flawed” as it gave preference to football creditors, including players, who were able to claim up to 100 per cent of money owed to them, while other creditors, including the taxman, would receive 20 per cent.