Chaos at Portsmouth

It’s not been a particularly fun season for Portsmouth Football Club so far: rooted at the bottom of the table and near-certainties to go down, they’ve been bedevilled by a financial crisis that has seen their players not get paid and even Sol Campbell threatening legal action for unpaid monies. Now they’re onto their fourth owner of the season – a Hong Kong businessman called Balram Chainrai – and Avram Grant has been named as the manager who was seen visiting a ‘seedy massage parlour’ in Southampton. Because no Saints fan would grass him up, would they?

The two-bob scandal of Grant paying for it won’t compare to the fundamental problems of their club for Pompey fans however, and it will be some solace to them that Chainrai (through a group called Portpin) is taking control of the club to sort it financially, so it can be re-sold, although that means long-term stability will continue to be a problem. Of course Chainrai will have to meet the fit and proper persons requirements for the Premier League, but seeing as Roman Abramovich, Thaksin Sinawatra and The Glazer goblins passed with flying colours that won’t be a problem.

Chainrai has taken over partly because if he had allowed Portsmouth to enter liquidation he would have lost the £17million he lent to previous owner Ali Al Faraj, and a clause in their agreement of the loan has opened the possibility of Chainrai taking Faraj’s 90% shareholding in the club.

‘Portpin's aim is to come in and stabilise the club, sort out the business with the winding-up order from HMRC and sell it on to new owners,’ said a spokesman for Portsmouth. ‘New directors will be appointed to the board and Peter Storrie will remain as chief executive and will be running the club.’

‘Portpin have exercised a clause in their contractual agreement to take a controlling interest. They are taking control on a temporary basis to allow new owners to be found.’

‘Chainrai has invoked a clause in a loan contract he struck with the club's third owner this year, Ali Al Faraj, giving him the right to take over 90% of the shares should they default on repayments to him,’ said BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar. ‘He recently loaned the club £15m to £20m to help get them through their current financial crisis, which still isn't resolved. Now the loans have not been repaid, he's the new owner of the club.’

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