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Pompey Saga Reveals Worst Aspects Of British Tabloid Media

Daily British newspapersThe 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.

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  1. pompeypaul

    June 28, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I cant wait for the period of due diligence to be over so i can start actually looking forward to the start of the new season. the sun are the main culprets in this without a doubt.maybe they do have agenda against pompey or at least one of their writers has an interest in causing a feeling of unease or trying to unsettle the playing staff – a certain mr harry redknapp. i would not be at all suprised if a player or two ends up making a switch or to white hart lane this season. then again i wouldnt be suprised if we end up with arry coming back . I just hope the deal is done and we get some decent premier league proven players like eidur gudjohnsen and i would definately welcome michael owen on a matches played deal . next season will be interesting and i would be happy with a top 12 finish if im honest. i now only go to and watch skysportsnews for proper updates as they always give a balanced view on any storys and tend to have very reliable sources. play up pompey !! lets get behind the lads in full force

  2. goatero

    June 27, 2009 at 12:52 am

    There is one thing we should clear up. Al Fahim is NOT a UN Goodwill Ambassador and it is unfortunate that his aids often seem to claim he is. He has links to an organisation run by Diego Maradonna’s cousin called IIMSAM which promotes the use of a type of algae as a cheap source of food. It is not in any way part of the UN.

    IIMSAM gives its representatives misleading titles such as ‘goodwill ambassador’ and makes spurious links to the UN’s objectives of ‘eradicating world poverty’. It is unfortunate that Al Fahim does not make more effort to ensure his position is not misrepresented.

  3. Grae

    June 24, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Re 14 :
    Legal action is counterproductive, costly, time consuming and gets you your legal expenses and a 3 line apology at best. Its a free press, and it won’t stop them printing mindless unfounded rubbish again. Especially when its all forgotten about in 48 hours. What legal action will do however, is guarantee you an enemy. A bitchy, vindictive one with a lot of ink and a readership of millions.

    There’s no doubt there’s been some shockingly unfounded reportage on the whole affair.

  4. Jas Rosam

    June 17, 2009 at 8:39 am

    One thing that does worry me though is that Pompey could have said they were taking legal action against the slanderous comments,as Dave Richards or shinawatara could have said and done,BUT there is no question of legal action being taken,,,,,,,hhhmmmmm makes you wonder though doesnt it.

  5. Jas Rosam

    June 17, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Hi a typical piece of evidence is in the SUN today(no surprises there then).
    Back page headline;”Owen has lost his bottle”,I now its not pompey here,but what it does is makes out Dave Whelan chairman of Wigan fc is slating,bad mouthing,and basically running Owen into the gutter,BACK PAGE HEADLINES,read the small snippet of the article on the back page and you think,”hang on a chairman shouldnt be rubbishing another pro like that”.
    But read on and two pages in Whelan goes onto praise the lad and even wanted to sign him and probably still would if his wages were not so high.He doesnt slag him off like the headline is saying at all.
    A typical ploy to sell newspapers and have a dig at someone who is not Man U or Chelsea who the tabloids favour.


    June 17, 2009 at 6:00 am

    neil custus the sun i think theres a whiff of sour grapes there in his articles,i wonder if its because the doc,turned down buying his disorganized club,and to think pompey have problems…..lmao

  7. wayne

    June 17, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Agree with most comments made. Newspapers just want to sell as many copies as possible so sensationalise any stories they can. They would not dare stir up this sort of trouble with the ‘top four’ as people like Ferguson would simply stop giving them interviews, thus impacting sales. So, that leaves 16 clubs to be picked on. Of these, the easiest targets with the least risk of sales loss are those with the lowest attendances/number of followers ,and guess what? Pompey are right in the middle of that category, or at least the newspapers think that. I have a slightly different view as out supporters are spread far more widely and in greater numbers than many would think, it’s our stadium capacity that is the issue. So,until we grow into a club towards the top end of the table and increase the capacity of our stadium, we will remain a ‘whipping boy’. All you can do is not buy the newspapers that consistently abuse the club.

  8. patrick

    June 17, 2009 at 2:46 am

    the tabloids wouldn’t lie, would they???

  9. Steve Cham

    June 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    It has to be an anti Pompey thing we had variations on these storries from the same papers when Gaydamak took over. It wasn’t his money etc etc if you can’t find real news to report shut up, print a blank page, it’ll be a sight more honest than the crap you peddle most days. I might even consider buying a paper then, if only for my son to draw on.

  10. Stephen

    June 16, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Mate, you got it in one yourself… to sell papers!! It has nothing to do with liking Pompey or not, ar mentioned by someone above. They’re like it all the time. Sensational news sells.

  11. Frattoniser

    June 16, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Personally i’ve long been disgusted with the pathetic, childish, immoral, incompetent, innacurate, imbecilic, lying, deceiving rubbish that spews from the sun, Mirror and Mail; if they really do believe in what they are printing then they should list all their sources, their hard evidence and then explain exactly what it is they have against us. They are disgusting low life scum, they have shown that over the years and have still not grown up from their childhood.

    Truly pathetic, they need to grow up – the above clearly shows how a damned good story should be written.

  12. AtlantaPompey

    June 16, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I’m looking forward to July, when the due diligence will be completed, we will have a new manager, a transfer budget, and can start building a club that will someday, years down the road, compete for a league title. It is a long, arduous process to develop into a big club. ManU, just a little over 30 years ago, was in the second division. We were in the fourth division, albeit briefly. Development takes time. Due diligence is absolutely necessary. Who cares what the press are making up? They have little to no credibility anyway.

    Play up Pompey!!!


    June 16, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Agree all the above, but would add the following : The sports press have never liked Pompey to progress, or get ” above our station” because we have broken out of the mould / niche they had us pigenholed in.

    We are a small [ southern ] provincial club who play in the Premiership, and had the audacity to sign a number of international / world-class players who took us to a consistently good position in the league, and then we won the FA Cup. The gutter [ Sports ] press hated us for doing this, have never forgiven us for doing it. As a result the so-called press scribes have written us down at every opportunity, and have had to pay no penalty for their actions. Why ? You cannot print untrue defamatory remarks about a business in the UK without risk of the law getting involved.

    Finally, and I love to return to one of our best results in modern times : Man Utd… 0 Pompey …1 in the 6th round of the FA Cup – at theirs !

    The only Man Utd “supporter” who tried to have a pop at me over this game said “We should have had a penalty [ Disin’s tackle ]”

    I delighted in replying ” The non-penalty came in the 8th minute of the game – are you telling me that “the best team in Europe” could not score a goal against us in 82 minutes, at Old Trafford !”


    Roll on next season, with a new owner.


  14. chrissmari

    June 16, 2009 at 9:58 am

    I think what bothers me the most about British Media related to sport is that they use direct quotes when they’re clearly not a direct quote. Especially with footballers. They paraphrase to make them sound more erudite, correct spoken grammar, and the footballers come out sounding like college professors instead of the uneducated monkeys many of them are.

  15. Mike Hall

    June 16, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Couldn’t agree more, and have started a facebook group aimed at boycotting the Mail and the Sun who are the two worst offenders. Remember that the reported sale price is £60m and the Doc said we are especially attractive because we have little debt. So what happened to the Mails assertion that we were for sale for £1 because of our crippling debts?

    The papers these days no longer care whether something is true, stacks up or is even credible, they just write it, and if they aren’t going to get sued they run it.

    The Suns’ assertion today that Shinawatra is “involved” in the takeover because he said he gave al-Fahim a few words of advice a few months back is breathtakingly disingenuous.

    I wrote an article about it all here and any feedback is welcome:

  16. Mike Norris

    June 16, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Well said. They are behaving dishonestly – as if they have another agenda altogether. Whatever happened to reporting the news instead of peddling fiction that may sell a dozen more newspapers.
    Mike Norris

  17. Mr Lawes, Portsmouth

    June 16, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Here here…
    Pompey are forever taking a metophoric sniff of the armpits when it comes to the press anyway, so this is nothing new. Detritus is the only word to describe the stories flying around at the moment….and just for the record, the true Pompey fans are being patient and are very much looking forward to a bright future. A new era is just around the corner.

    Play Up Pompey

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