Pompey face another takeover

Hong Kong-based businessman prepares dramatic bailout that could save troubled South Coast club

Portsmouth were last night on the verge of another takeover that could potentially stop the club from being forced into liquidation next week.

The penniless club's "knight in shining armour" is Balram Chainrai, a Hong Kong-based businessman of Nepalese extraction who holds a British passport. Chainrai, 51, last night made move to seize control of the 90 per cent shareholding owned by Ali al-Faraj after the club defaulted on payments due to him over a loan of up to £20m.

Chainrai's company Portpin had loaned the money to al-Faraj in October to keep Portsmouth afloat. However he included clauses in his contract to say that if al-Faraj failed to keep up repayments, then Chainrai would take over his stake in the club. Al-Faraj is expected to resist this attempt which could drag the club into a lengthy court battle.

The aim of Chainrai and his Israeli business partner, Levi Kusnir, is to prevent the club going into liquidation. Portsmouth have debts of £60m and face a winding-up order from HM Revenue and Customs next week over an unpaid tax bill of £7.5m.

Chainrai fears he will lose all the money he has invested in Portsmouth if the club are forced into liquidation at the High Court next Wednesday. Fearing the worst, he was in London yesterday trying to secure the short-term future of the club, who last night remained five points adrift at the foot of the Premier League table after losing 1-0 at Fulham. It is understood that Chainrai has no desire to own Portsmouth permanently, but only wishes to secure its immediate future with a view to selling it as soon as is feasible.

Chainrai last night said: "Portpin have made substantial loans to Portsmouth to try and ensure the club's future. Portpin will continue to work for the best interests of the club." Chainrai appealed to HMRC to understand the club's predicament. He said: "To help Portsmouth succeed we need the support and understanding of HMRC to work out a solution."

Kushnir and Chainrai were part of a consortium, which was put together by Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie and Israeli super-agent Pini Zahavi, that tried to buy the club last year. Instead owner Alexandre Gaydamak agreed to sell to Sulaiman Al Fahim, who failed to attract investors and sold 90 per cent of his stake to al-Faraj via his company Falcondrone.

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