DUBAI // Sulaiman al Fahim, the chairman of Portsmouth Football Club, is recovering in hospital today after emergency surgery to remove kidney stones. Mr al Fahim, 32, who completed his drawn-out takeover of the Premier League strugglers five weeks ago, was taken to an undisclosed Dubai hospital on Thursday evening, said his London-based spokesman, Ivo Ilic Gabara.
"I spoke to Sulaiman [Friday] morning and he confirmed that on Thursday night he was rushed to hospital with an acute kidney infection," Mr Gabara said. "He sounded good," he said. "He told me he would be operated on [on Friday] to have kidney stones removed. He expects to recover in the next couple of days, but the infection will take a little longer to heal." The operation ended a difficult week for Mr al Fahim, whose last public appearance came at an awards dinner in Dubai on Monday.
Portsmouth's first-team squad, which has lost seven successive games in England's top flight, and its executive board were not paid last week. The club's executive directors issued a statement urging Mr al Fahim to find a "permanent financing solution" for the club from the south coast of England. Mr Gabara, however, said Mr al Fahim and his advisers were close to finalising a refinancing package announced last week.
"The surgery will not have an impact on the refinancing or management of Portsmouth Football Club," he said. "His advisers are working closely with [the club's chief financial officer] Tanya Robins to ensure that the £50 million (Dh291m) financing is disbursed on schedule within the next three to four weeks. "Day-to-day management of the club is ensured by its CEO, Peter Storrie." Mr Storrie, Mr Robins and Roberto Avondo, Portsmouth FC's executive directors, insisted, however, that Mr al Fahim must provide details of his long-term financing plans and stressed the non-payment of club employees was "outside of the club's control".
"It is clear that in order to ensure that the club is able to secure its longer-term future, a more permanent financing solution needs to be found quickly," they said in a statement. "To achieve this we will continue to work closely with the owner's lawyers and associates in delivering the finance that is needed over the next 10 to 14 days. Ultimately the responsibility to deliver this remains with the owner," it added.