Ah, isn’t buying a football club the easiest thing in the world. Look how quickly Abramovich bought Chelsea, the Glazers bought Manchester United and the Abu Dhabi group picked up City. Compared to the protracted nature of the proposed takeover of Portsmouth, even buying Newcastle United may be easier.
When Sulaiman Al-Fahim reappeared in May to announce he was to buy Portsmouth, I wasn’t surprised, just perplexed. I’d forgotten that the buyers of Manchester City had quickly jettisoned him last autumn when he started making wild statements to the press about transfer targets and wages. Well, now here he is again and it seems another can of worms has been opened over the takeover.
The English press, well known for its balance and refusal to use knee jerk headlines, has been all over the Pompey takeover this weekend. From the Guardian, to the Sun to the, erm, Daily Star, rumours abounded about who was actually involved in the deal. First we had Premier League Chairman Dave Richards getting embroiled in the takeover before going on a media blitz to say he had no involvement or had set the deal up.
Then amazingly, international fugitive and former owner of Manchester City, Thaksin Shinawatra then came out claiming he was not involved at all after he was reported to be involved. Finally, expecting Adolf Hitler to be involved in some freak time machine/cryogenically frozen worm hole scandal, disappointingly it then seemed that Al-Fahim’s Hydra Group was owned by the brother of Manchester City’s owner, Sheikh Mansoor.
Ok, have you followed this so far? Good. Now after all that, what must the Portsmouth fans think of it all? The Fratton Park faithful, who have seen more than their fair share’s of ups and downs over the years, must have thought they’d seen most things, but even this little pot-boiler must be an unusual set of events even in Portsmouths history.
With no manager with Paul Hart’s temporary contract now having run its course, Glen Johnson tipped to leave very soon and now Peter Crouch coming out in the press to admit his disappointment and frustration at events, it could hardly be duller. Add to that Chief Executive Peter Storrie’s annoyance at the wild speculation surrounding the Al-Fahim’s bid and Crouch’s comments and you have a situation that will have the Pompey fans wondering if Godzilla may turn up coming out of the Solent next and stomp his way through Fareham on the way to the cricket ground.
When the dust finally settles, I truly hope that Al-Fahim is as good as his word, the Portsmouth fans deserve it. The last 10 years have been like a day out at Southsea fairground for the loyal fans of Pompey. This is a club that deserves and needs some investment on a continual basis, as great a ground for atmosphere Fratton Park is, it looks well past it sell by date. The new proposal for the ground that came out last year looked fantastic; it’s such a relief to see a ground so different to the normal identikit shoeboxes that seem to pop up these days and let’s hope the new owners agree to it.
New investment is crucial though for Portsmouth to compete both on and off the field and the sooner Al-Fayims due diligence is completed, the better for the fans. After all, they’ve a certain other clubs recent relegations to warn them of the promise of good times that are always around the corner but never arrive.