x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Fahim in Portsmouth sale talks

The English football club chairman confirms he is trying to sell his majority stake to a consortium funded by a Saudi businessman.

Sulaiman al Fahim, the chairman of Portsmouth Football Club, has confirmed he is trying to sell his majority shareholding in the English Premier League team to a consortium funded by Saudi businessman Ali al Faraj, and headed by Peter Storrie, the club's executive officer. Mr Al Fahim, recovering in a Dubai hospital following a successful operation to remove kidney stones, admitted discussions with Mr al Faraj - reported to own a significant holding in Saudi petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries Company - have been going on for weeks.

"Negotiations started weeks ago and we are now close to a lawyers agreement," he told The National. "I am travelling to London tomorrow (Monday) for a meeting." Although seemingly ready to surrender control of the club, Mr al Fahim revealed he will retain a minority shareholding - a portfolio the Emirati businessman will look to add to should circumstances change in the future. "I want to retain a minority holding and I'm seeking first refusal on any shares they might want to sell in the future," added Mr al Fahim, who confirmed the al Faraj-backed group is the same consortium who also bid for the club when he bought it in August.

Having suffered seven successive Premier League losses since Mr al Fahim became owner, Portsmouth's stock rose slightly this weekend after a 1-0 away win at Wolverhampton but they are still bottom of the division. emegson@thenational.ae