Ali Al Faraj ousted from Portsmouth

Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai takes 90% stake; appeals to taxman for understanding on debts.
Ali Al Faraj ousted from Portsmouth
NEW OWNER: Portsmouth fans are set for another change in the boardroom - the fourth in just seven months.
By Anil Bhoyrul
Thu 04 Feb 2010 01:47 PM

Ali Al Faraj’s controversial reign as Portsmouth owner is over, after his shares were taken over by Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai.

He becomes the club’s fourth owner in just seven months, with Portsmouth still facing a UK winding up petition this month that could send the club into administration.

The club was first sold to Sulaiman Al Fahim last July by Sacha Gaydamak. However, Al Fahim sold 90 percent of the club’s shares to Al Faraj just 42 days later. Since then, Al Faraj has consistently failed to pay the players on time, and never once actually visited the club.

It is understood that Al Faraj had taken over $20m in loans from Chainrai to keep the club afloat in recent months. The loans were secured against the stadium, the club’s future television income and Al Faraj’s 90 percent stake in the club.

Last night Chainrai’s lawyers seized control of the shares, after Al Faraj failed to meet repayments on the loan – effectively taking full control of the club.

The new owner told the Guardian newspaper he hoped that the Inland Revenue would work with the club over the winding up order it faces this month: “Portpin (Chainrai’s company) have made substantial loans to Portsmouth to try and ensure the club's future. Portpin will [now] continue to work for the best interests of the club. To help Portsmouth succeed we need the support and understanding of Her Majesty's Revenue to work out a solution."

Portsmouth chairman Al Fahim, who retains a 10 percent stake in the club, told Arabian Business: “This is a good move as it will bring some stability to the club. I think it is what was needed.”

Chainrai is expected to appoint his own executives to the Portsmouth board, leaving the future of current CEO Peter Storrie in doubt. Also unclear is the future of manager Avram Grant, after newspaper reports in the UK claimed he was to be quizzed by police after visiting a brothel. The club is rooted at the bottom of the Premier League, after losing 1-0 to Fulham last night.

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