Hart sacking shocks Fahim

The Portsmouth chairman Sulaiman al-Fahim said yesterday he opposed the decision taken by the club's new owner Ali al-Faraj to sack manager Paul Hart. Fahim, who is chairman of the club and still owns a 10 per cent stake, said no one from the club consulted him on the move, and revealed he only found out when it was announced on the club's website.

Fahim, who is in the United Arab Emirates, told a Portsmouth newspaper: "I'm totally surprised. I'm really disappointed with the decision. I think it was too fast and we should have had somebody ready to replace him [Hart].

"Paul Hart is a good manager, maybe the club does need a better manager, but from what I understand all the players were supporting Paul. There are some important games coming up and I'm disappointed.

"I was not involved in the decision at all. I'm disappointed with the way the board decided this, I should have been called. As chairman of the club I have an interest in the club and they should have run this by me. I'm really disappointed with the decision."

Avram Grant remains the clear favourite to take the job and would be a straightforward internal appointment, having returned to the club for a second spell as director of football last month.

The Israeli, who is expected to receive a UK work permit this week, has tried to play down the situation but that has not prevented reports that an appointment could be imminent from gathering pace.

Former Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson and ex-Charlton and West Ham manager Alan Curbishley could also be contenders, but Grant appears the logical choice. The 54-year-old took charge at Chelsea in similar circumstances two years ago and went on to take the club to the Champions League final. Faraj is reportedly travelling to the UK tomorrow.

Hart, however, may not be finished with the South Coast club as he considers the offer of a new post as technical director. In announcing Hart had been relieved of his duties on Tuesday night, the club said he had declined the position, which entails overseeing the development of players aged 18-21. The situation changed yesterday as the club revealed Hart is now rethinking. A spokesman said: "Paul Hart is considering the position."