By Anil Bhoyrul
EXCLUSIVE: Former Thai PM says he is not financially involved with Sulaiman Al Fahim.
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Monday denied any involvement in the takeover of Portsmouth FC.
Responding to media reports in the UK, he gave his clearest explanation of his involvement with new Portsmouth owner Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim – telling Arabian Business: “I have nothing to do with Portsmouth FC in any shape or form. It isn’t me, it never has been. You’ve got the wrong guy.”
Writing exclusively in Arabian Business on Monday, Shinawatra has detailed for the first time his links with Dr Al Fahim, which have been the subject of media scrutiny – almost threatening at one stage to scupper the takeover of the club.
He said: “He (Dr Al Fahim) is a businessman I greatly admire, and have met and spoken with several times. I consider him a close friend. Earlier this year he told me he was looking to invest in a Premier League club himself. I gave him some advice and wished him well – that was the end of the conversation.”
He added: “Myself and Dr Sulaiman have spoken many times since about football, though our discussion has been on whether Diego Maradona is a better footballer than Lionel Messi. Indeed, a journalist from Arabian Business has even joined us once during these heated debates over dinner. No mention was ever made of Portsmouth, or any other Premier League club.”
Shinawatra has also clarified the position of his associates for the first time, saying: “It is correct that some of my associates may have helped with the introductions for Dr Sulaiman. Why not? I know a lot of people in soccer, and was more than happy to pass on any contacts I could. That doesn’t make them investors.
"Again, I am not involved, nor are my associates... Football? Me? Again? No, no and no.”
Portsmouth is in the process of being taken over by Dr Al Fahim subject to a process of due diligence.
However, reports in the UK have suggested that Shinawatra was involved in the buyout, which would not be permitted under Premier League rules. He described the reports as both “amusing” and frustrating”.