The entire saga surrounding the proposed selling of Portsmouth FC to Dr. Sulaiman al-Fahim has really opened my eyes as to what the British media considers journalism.
First a little back story.
Pompey have been in financial trouble for quite some time, as has been documented by the media as well as the club. Harry Redknapp left the club in part because he foresaw major financial issues and had an opportunity to go to a club without those issues. Sasha Gaydamak, the current owner, announced that he would be selling the club in December, as his financial empire could no longer support running the club. Portsmouth has been playing at least a league above their place in the world for quite some time. With one of the smallest stadiums in the top flight, and even most Championship clubs have bigger a bigger stadium, the revenue generated for the club has not matched the revenue needed to remain competitive in the Premier League. Gaydamak has funded the purchases and salaries of the club for quite some time, but the bubble burst when the economy hit a snag last fall.
In steps Dr. Sulaiman al-Fahim. He is a real estate investor from the United Arab Emirates. Depending on your sources, he is one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the Arab world, or he is merely a broker and has no money of his own with which to buy the club. He was involved in Manchester City’s takeover, but merely as a broker. He was either dismissed from being involved in Manchester City, or, since his job was merely to broker the sale and the sale was complete, he went back to the UAE and resumed his real estate business. He is credited with saying many outlandish things during that process, including wanting to buy the best player in the world at every position. He has not said such outlandish things this time around. He also runs the largest children’s charity in the Middle East and was recently named a United Nations Children’s Ambassador.
So reports have him buying the club for himself using only his money. Other reports claim it is a consortium of Arabic and Asian investors which may or may not include Thaksin Shinawatra. He obviously would not pass the Fit and Proper Person’s Test as he has been convicted and lost his British Residency Permit. The Club, Dr. al-Fahim, and Shinawatra himself have all issued statements that he is not involved, yet the rumors persist.
Reports are claiming that the Due Diligence process is not proceeding very well. One reason they cite is that Manchester City was bought in what felt like about 20 minutes, and this process is taking weeks. Both the club and Dr. al-Fahim are consistently saying that this process will take time and won’t be finished until early July. Many tabloids are using this delay to point out that players will leave, that all of the good managers will be hired, that it will be too late to start building a club that will compete for a title. They are right, but I believe they are missing the point.
When Abramovich took over Chelsea, they were already a top club. Pompey is not. Getting them to the top of the table will take years. It will include hiring a big name manager who can attract talented players. It will include a new stadium that increases the revenue. As example, look at Liverpool and the lack of revenue a new stadium to replace Anfield and how that is hurting their ability to go out and purchase players to put them over the top. Each transfer window, the club must improve until, years from now, they find themselves in a position to consistently get into European competition, which will attract further talent, generate further revenue, and push them to the top of the table.
Why do the British tabloids act this way? Is it merely to sell newspapers, regardless of the veracity of their reports? Do they have an agenda against certain clubs? Do they not understand how to check facts? Do they not care about checking facts? Do they not see the consequences of their actions hurt their reputation? Do they not care about their reputation, only their bottom line? Why do the British people tolerate this? Is it just so entertaining? I can’t wait for this whole process to finish just so I don’t have to read about it anymore and we can get to more important items concerning the team and the stadium and the future.
My computer widget that searches the web and pulls all Portsmouth related articles for me to read has been pulling the same three articles for about two weeks, many of which are reported as shocking news, even though it’s old news. It makes me want to turn it off until the season starts.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering: Don’t even get me started on the American media, especially when it comes to sports.