Faraj leaves it late to clinch Pompey deal

Fahim sells up after just 43 days with late night sale to Saudi property magnate
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The Independent Online

The Saudi businessman, Ali al-Faraj, last night completed his takeover of Portsmouth. Former owner Sulaiman al-Fahim sold 90 per cent of the shares in the club to Falcondrone Limited, a company owned by Faraj, freeing up funds to pay players and executives.

Fahim, who only bought the club from Alexandre Gaydamak less than eight weeks ago, is though expected to remain as non-executive chairman. A statement on the Portsmouth website said: "The takeover will ensure Portsmouth Football Club's future is safe and will bring financial stability. Contracts have been signed between the parties today to enable funds to be released to pay the players and executive board on Tuesday."

Al-Fahim Asia Associates Ltd (AAA), owned by Fahim, retains a 10 per cent share. Fahim stays as non-executive chairman until at least the end of next season, while Peter Storrie will continue in his role as chief executive. Fahim was willing to relinquish full ownership in the "best interests" of Portsmouth, his spokesman Ivo Gabara said earlier.

Faraj, 40, who will be joined on the board by his associate Mark Jacob, has already passed the Premier League's fit and proper person test following his involvement in the consortium that attempted to buy the club in late August.

On that occasion, Faraj missed out when Gaydamak opted to sell his majority shareholding to AAA. But Storrie brought Faraj back to the table when doubts began to grow that Fahim could attract the necessary funding in time to stop the club going bust.

Jacob said last night: "He's absolutely delighted and looking forward to working with the team and the players. He is a huge supporter of the English Premiership and he's delighted to get involved. I anticipate the players will get their salaries [today]."

Fahim was forced to refinance Portsmouth after banks demanded immediate payment of all television receipts and profits from the last transfer window, totalling £35m. Storrie revealed last weekend there was "no money left" and that 30 per cent of the £50m package Fahim had pledged to raise was due by mid-October.

The Portsmouth statement continued: "Once the takeover is complete the club will undergo refinancing in order to grow and develop every part of the business. Mr al-Faraj is very supportive of the club's plans for a new training ground and the development of Fratton Park."

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