x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Fahim gives Portsmouth shares to fans

Sulaiman al Fahim, the Emirati businessman, confirmed last night he would hand over his remaining shares in Portsmouth to the team's supporters trust.

DUBAI // Sulaiman al Fahim, the Emirati businessman, confirmed last night he would hand over his remaining shares in Portsmouth, the English Premier League club, to the team's supporters trust after resigning as non-executive chairman. Al Fahim, the former chief executive of Hydra Properties, has asked his legal representatives to start the process of handing over the 10 per cent of the club's shareholding he still holds to Pompey Supporters Trust.

He sold the other 90 per cent of the club to Ali al Faraj, the Saudi Arabian businessman, in October, just two months after he had purchased Portsmouth from Alexandre Gaydamak. "I have formally resigned as non-executive chairman. I have sent a letter to Mark Jacobs [the executive director] and Peter Storrie [the chief executive]," said al Fahim last night. "I have promised to give my 10 per cent holding to the supporters trust and I've asked my lawyers to co-ordinate the transfer."

Al Fahim criticised the way Portsmouth have been run since he sold the club to al Faraj. Portsmouth are due back at the High Court in London on Monday to try to avoid being wound up over an unpaid tax bill of more than £11.5million (Dh65.3m). "I am very upset with the way the club is being run. It is very bad, nothing is clear, there is no transparency and everyone is working for themselves," al Fahim said.

"There has not been one board meeting since Ali al Faraj took over the club. How can you run a club like that, without real board meetings? Discussions between the various parties are not the same thing." A Portsmouth spokesman said the news of al Fahim's desire to step down was "surprising", given the fact that a week ago, he had been talking about buying the club again. Portsmouth are under their fourth owner of the season, the Hong Kong-based businessman Balram Chainrai took over from al Faraj to ensure the club's survival and that he received money he was owed.

Chainrai said yesterday he was close to selling the club to a South African consortium. If successful, it would be a 100 per cent takeover and it is unlikely the supporters' trust will stand in their way following their acquisition of the 10 per cent share. Al Fahim said he expected the club to survive under Chainrai's guidance, no matter how temporary it is. "I believe that Chainrai has the money and the funds to avoid administration," he said.

"He has the cash to support the club. There are potential buyers out there who could help get the club back on the right path." Chainrai used his own money to pay a £4m tax bill in January, and according to his spokesman has put as much as £17m into Portsmouth to keep the club afloat. At the weekend, the Premier League denied Portsmouth's request to be allowed to sell players outside the transfer window.

When asked whether yesterday marked the end of his commitment to the club, al Fahim said: "No, it is not over, I'm a fan of Pompey for life," he said. "It is a great club and is with me forever." Should Portsmouth go into administration on Monday they would be deducted 10 points, virtually sealing their relegation to the Championship. emegson@thenational.ae