By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger is adamant that Portsmouth should not be allowed to go under while the Premier League season is still unfolding.
The south-coast club is in financial turmoil with debts of around £60million and will contest a winding-up order by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs on March 1.
Portsmouth are clinging to survival and, although they are believed to be in negotiations with two prospective buyers, the top flight's bottom club have asked for permission to sell players outside the transfer window in an attempt to raise funds.
The next couple of weeks will be critical to Portsmouth's future and, although he believes mis-management must be punished, Wenger hopes the club can be saved. If it can't be salvaged, the Frenchman insists it would undermine the credibility of the Premier League to cut Portsmouth loose before the summer and expunge their results this season.
"I feel for Portsmouth and I would like this club to be saved," said Wenger. "The club will not necessarily be saved but, for the reputation of the Premier League, they have to go at least until the end of the season, helped by the Premier League.
"I think the punishment for mis-management is that you usually are punished on the sporting side - that means you go down - but what happens here is that in the middle of the season the whole competition can go in an unfair way because one club has been mis-managed.
"That's why I believe there should be a security fund that has to be available to save the competition at least. After that, Portsmouth has to be punished at the end of the season for mis-management if they have done that.
"But of course, Portsmouth should be an example of mismanagement, of multi-repeated ownerships that owners come in week after week, and you don't know who really it is.
"This is something that has to be clarified because in England what I like is that every club has its own freedom to manage itself but somewhere we have not to forget that the club is owned as well by the fans and by the history of the club.

"For a club like Portsmouth to be in danger of disappearing, it is part of the history of the game that goes."

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19 Feb 2010