Portsmouth news

Al Fahim keen to make Portsmouth 'great'

May 28, 2009

Prospective Portsmouth owner Sulaiman Al Fahim has told fans he intends to use their help to build a ''great football club''.

Pompey announced on Wednesday they had accepted an offer from the Arab property magnate to buy the south coast club. A period of due diligence will now take place but Al Fahim's takeover from current owner Alexandre Gaydamak is expected to be completed within weeks.

Al Fahim brokered the deal which allowed the Abu Dhabi United Group to buy Manchester City last year but later gave way to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan after making bold claims about who the club could sign.

He now has no connection to City and has been much more modest in proclaiming his ambitions for Pompey.

Al Fahim told Arabianbusiness: ''Everything I have seen makes me sure that we can build a great football club in the years to come.

''Portsmouth has incredible history, and its fans are some of the most loyal in the world of football. I look forward not just to working with them, but listening to their views on how they want to take the club forward.

''I am the investor, but this is their club and their community - and it is a privilege to be taking charge.''

Some reports have estimated the value of Al Fahim's takeover at £60m, £40m of which is to clear debts. He is the chief executive of Hydra Properties and has a number of other interests, including presenting the United Arab Emirates' version of 'The Apprentice'. Yet he has allayed fears he will not have enough time for Portsmouth.

He said: ''Everyone has hobbies, no matter how little your time. I derive strength from the team that I have at work and find time because I have a team.

''Among my hobbies are chess, football and selected charity work for children and against global malnutrition. I take all of these activities seriously, so I am obviously not doing this alone, but jointly with different groups of people and teams that are professional and dedicated to the cause.''

Al Fahim is backed by a team of investors in his attempts to purchase Portsmouth and has insisted his input is his alone and not connected to Hydra, whose business is affected by the credit crunch.

He said: ''Let me be very clear in saying that my involvement in Portsmouth has nothing to do with Hydra.

''The money for the Portsmouth FC acquisition and the needed future investment has been raised through the network of Falcon Equity from Asian and Middle Eastern investors. None of these investors are from the real estate sector or part of a royal family.''

Al Fahim's past involvement with the Manchester City takeover may raise eyebrows in certain sectors of the football world but he states that should not be a concern.

He said: ''Since immediately after the deal in September 2008 I have no longer been involved with Man City, even though I admire the club and the team. After Man City I was looking for another attractive club in the Premier League - which we found in Portsmouth.''