x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sheikh buys Premier League club stake; not Portsmouth

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi buys a 60% of a Premier League club which the property tycoon Sulaiman al Fahim denies is Portsmouth.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the chairman of the Ras al Khaimah Department of Customs and Seaports, has purchased 60 per cent of an English Premier League football team, it was announced by WAM last night. The state news agency did not reveal the name of the club, but speculation was rife in England last night that Sheikh Ahmed may have joined forces with Sulaiman al Fahim, who announced last month that he was acquiring the Portsmouth Football Club. However, the property tycoon Mr al Fahim, who is buying Portsmouth, told The National today that Portsmouth is not the club in question. The news means Emiratis may now own three English premier league football clubs. "It is not Portsmouth," said Mr al Fahim. "I don't know which club it is. I read about the deal in the newspapers today just like everybody else." Last month Fahim said he had agreed in principle to buy Portsmouth after meeting the club's chief executive Peter Storrie in Rome on the day of the Champions League final. Last summer, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bought a majority stake in Manchester City football club through the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), an investment company. Some Premier League officials have expressed doubts about Mr al Fahim's purchase of Portsmouth because the CEO of Hydra Properties also acted as a broker for ADUG. The same investor is not allowed to have a controlling interest in more than one club, according to the league's rules. But the only party involved in the Portsmouth takeover is Mr al Fahim's company Al Fahim Asia Associates, a spokesman for Mr al Fahim has said.

It was thought the Portsmouth deal had been scuppered when the disgraced former prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, was linked to the deal by some English newspapers. Thaksin has completely denied the rumours.

Portsmouth finished 14th in the Premier League last season. The UAE already has an ownership presence in the league through Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, who owns a majority share in Manchester City. gcaygill@thenational.ae with Reuters