MidEast investors launch $20m bid for Portsmouth

Formal offer made for struggling English football club; funds being held in Dubai Bank
Portsmouth Football Club seeks bankruptcy protection
By Anil Bhoyrul
Sun 09 Sep 2012 07:21 PM

Middle East investors have lodged a dramatic $20m bid to take over troubled football club Portsmouth, Arabian Business can reveal.

Details of the offer were sent to the club’s administrators last Tuesday. Documents seen by Arabian Business also show that a consortium of investors deposited funds totaling AED75.058m ($20.4m) into an escrow account held  by Dubai Bank on August 30.

The formal offer to take over the club includes a deal to buy the assets of the club, including the freehold property and players contracts. Full details of payments to creditors are also made in the offer, as well as the repayment of £8.8m over a four year period to former players.

The offer letter also says “our client is willing to welcome the Portsmouth Supporters Trust to invest and buy shares in the club if they are so interested".

When approached by Arabian Business on Sunday, the consortium confirmed the offer had been made, and the necessary funds already placed in an escrow account.

However, Arabian Business also agreed to a request not to publish their names for fear of jeopardising the deal.

The troubled club has seen a number of owners in recent years, beginning with Sulaiman Al Fahim who first took over Portsmouth in 2009 when the team played in the Premier League. However, mounting debts saw the club change hands many times after, including twice being owned by businessman Balram Chainrai.

After being relegated and moving into administration, there have been growing fears that the club could face permanent closure without an immediate buyer.

Both Chanrai and the club’s supporters trust had been involved in buyout talks, but so far neither were available to raise the funds.

A member of the consortium told Arabian Business: “The offer is there, we have the money and we are ready to do this, and the offer shows we have the funds to really rebuild this club again. We can’t say anymore than that right now.”

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