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Rooney duets with Ed Sheeran

The Toe Poke

Portsmouth's Al Fahim tries to calm admin fears

New owner Sulaiman Al Fahim has tried to calm fears among the club's supporters by telling them that Portsmouth is not heading for administration - after ESPNsoccernet revealed the true extent of the financial crisis.

• Preview: Portsmouth v Everton
• O'Leary in line to replace Hart

With news that chief executive Peter Storrie had renegotiated late payments to clubs like Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal on transfer payments owed, and that £6 million must be paid within three weeks or the club will go bust, Fahim at first cancelled a meeting with the fans on Friday night, but then went ahead and told them that he will inject £50 million into the club within weeks.

When the hastily reinstated meeting with the fans was over, Fahim and Storrie left in one car for more talks designed to convince Storrie not to end his seven years at the club.

Al Fahim told a sceptical audience that the funding had come from institutional investors in America, saying that he was not borrowing against the club's assets but 'against himself'. The money would be used to pay off some of the club's debts and to fund transfers in the January window.

Significantly, he said he was seeking further investors, perhaps leaving the door open for Storrie's own consortium of Saudi businessmen to play a role in the club's future.

He described Storrie as 'the most important person at the football club', in light of his role in fighting off the club's creditors and helping to avoid administration.

Should the club fail to pay the clubs by the dates negotiated by Storrie, then rock-bottom Pompey would be forced into administration and left facing almost certain relegation, given the ten-point penalty they would suffer. But Fahim said that reports were incorrect and that he believes such reports are "very damaging to the club's interests" and "undermine its viability".

Fahim told Pompey's fans that he is committed to taking the club forward and that his strategy is to invest prudently in strengthening the squad and improving the club's infrastructure. He insisted that the finance plan was guaranteed by international institutions and was backed by firm commitments.

Fahim also gave his backing to beleaguered manager Paul Hart, who is under pressure after starting the season with six defeats. Fahim said: ''My focus, along with everyone at the football club, is on tomorrow's match against Everton. This club is not about one individual and it's imperative that we concentrate our efforts on supporting Paul Hart and the team.''

Speaking ahead of the crunch fixture, Hart insisted: ''I don't feel under pressure. Pressure from what? I want to get results, that's what I'm looking for. What have I got to fear?''


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