x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Fahim to buy Portsmouth

The UAE businessman Sulaiman al Fahim signs a deal to buy the English Premier League football club Portsmouth FC.

Portsmouth teammates celebrate after scoring a goal during a match against West Bromwich Albion in April this year.
Portsmouth teammates celebrate after scoring a goal during a match against West Bromwich Albion in April this year.

UAE businessman Sulaiman al Fahim has signed a deal to buy the English football club Portsmouth FC, bringing the number of Premier League clubs under Emirati ownership to two. Speaking from Rome tonight, where he was attending the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona, Mr al Fahim, who heads a property company, told The National he was "excited" by the purchase but would not reveal how much he was paying for the club. "I'm excited about the club and I've signed the memorandum," he said. "I was involved in the Manchester City purchase but this one is now mine." Mr al Fahim inked the deal before last night's final, where he was a guest of the current Portsmouth owner Andre Gaydamak, and said he planned to develop the club's youth academy and create a network of relationships with other clubs across the world. He also said he hoped to give talented Emirati players an opportunity to gain experience with Portsmouth if they prove good enough. Supporters of the football club on England's south coast enthusiastically welcomed the takeover, but warned Mr al Fahim would need to invest "hundreds of millions of pounds" on a new stadium and players to keep the club in the lucrative Premier League and challenge for a high league finish. "It's fantastic news," said Nigel Tressider, chairman of the official Portsmouth FC supporters club. "He will be welcomed with open arms by the terrific Portsmouth fans. I don't think he would have bought the club unless he has enough money to put it on the right track and that is going to take a lot of money, hundreds of millions of pounds." tspender@thenational.ae