Portsmouth has been hit with a transfer ban by the English Premier League because of its debts owed to other English clubs.
|Portsmouth manager Paul Hart won't have funds in January [GALLO/GETTY]
The indefinite sanction was imposed to prevent the last-place club's liabilities and wage bill increasing after the league applied stringent new financial controls.
Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie said earlier this month that the club had debts of $16.4 million despite offloading its highest-value players in recent months.
Even before the new rules were introduced in August, Pompey agreed to be subjected to an initial ban from buying players in the offseason when they
were on the brink of administration.
That was lifted as Sulaiman Al-Fahim bought Portsmouth, but his tenure as owner lasted less than six weeks as he failed to refinance the club and pay
the players' wages on time.
The subsequent takeover by Saudi Arabian property magnate Ali Al-Faraj was thought to have rescued Portsmouth, but the Premier League suggested otherwise Wednesday.
"There is an embargo on Portsmouth registering any new players,'' League spokesman Dan Johnson said.
If Portsmouth fails to meet its liabilities to other clubs, money from central payments, including TV rights, could be diverted by the league to Pompey's creditors.
The league won't take control of the club, but will guide its executives through the financial crisis and scrutinize its budgets.
"If on assessment the (Premier League) board believes the club is at risk of not being able to meet their obligations, then it has to step in and agree a budget for the running of that club and it has the ability to embargo any transfers and to stop negotiating upwards any player contracts,'' Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said of the new rules in August.
"Effectively, you won't able to add to the existing cost basis by putting up player wages or anything else. That is very significant and obviously it's a fairly intrusive situation. The rational for that is simple: it's absolutely essential that these clubs are run as viable going concerns and they are sustainable.''
The ban will prevent manager Paul Hart from strengthening his struggling Portsmouth side in the January transfer window unless it is lifted.