Ben Haim hits out at Portsmouth owners

Defender says supporters and players have been betrayed by men in charge at Fratton Park
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The Independent Football

Tal Ben Haim has accused Portsmouth's owners of deceiving the club's supporters and players and believes that the team would have avoided relegation without the turmoil that led to the club going into administration.

The Israel centre-half moved to the south coast side last summer on a free transfer from Petah Tikva and expected them to improve and rebuild after only just escaping relegation in 2009.

But such hopes have been comprehensively dashed, as players were sold in August and January, they were docked nine points for going into administration with debts that were revealed to be almost £140m, and they had a transfer embargo imposed.

Ben Haim, who will face his old club Chelsea in the FA Cup final tomorrow, said: "Everything has been so tough. You come in every day not knowing what is going to happen. Every two weeks we hear that somebody else is buying the club, apparently without money so it is a bit ridiculous. Salaries not being paid on time, but for me it is always about the pitch.

"I am sure that the situation affected the players and I am sure that if it was a normal situation like at all the clubs I have been at before then we would definitely have stayed in the Premier League.

"You try to concentrate and still do your job but it is hard. When I came I thought it was a good club that wanted to go forward. But when people come to buy the club without any money, I don't know, maybe they just want to be famous."

Asked if the situation had made him angry, the former Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City defender, 28, said: "It has not made me happy that's for sure. When I signed a long-term deal in the summer they said they would bring more players. They did not only make promises to me, they made promises to the manager, to the staff and all the fans.

"But we don't need to look back at the bad things always. We have a fantastic thing to look forward to, the FA Cup final which is the biggest game of the season for us."

Ben Haim, and Avram Grant, the Pompey manager, were together at Chelsea for a season before they both left two years ago and will be offering insights to try to stop the west London club completing its first league and Cup double. Having gone close in mid-December in the league, losing 2-1, Ben Haim knows his team-mates can push the new Premier League champions.

He says: "I know all their players. It will be a bit special. I spoke with a few of the lads and they know that in one game anything can happen. You always have a chance when you play Chelsea. We had a chance at Stamford Bridge."

Grant is likely to leave Fratton Park in the summer, but Ben Haim believes that his work at Portsmouth and Chelsea, whom he took to the Champions League final in 2008, means he deserves to find another club quickly.

Ben Haim says: "He did a good job at Chelsea and following Mourinho is not easy. The situation at Portsmouth is definitely not his fault and he has got us to the Cup final. So I think he deserves to manage a team in the Premier League."

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