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Oct 6, 2009

Pompey were 'days away' from administration

Portsmouth were just days away from administration before Ali Al-Faraj swooped in to save the club on Monday night, according to the lawyer of the new owner.

• Portsmouth takeover is confirmed
• Comment: Lomas on Portsmouth

Sulaiman Al-Fahim's brief yet torturous spell in charge of the club came to an end late on Monday when Al-Faraj completed his takeover by purchasing 90% of Portsmouth.

Brokered in part by chief executive Peter Storrie, who had previously outlined in detail the extensive problems afflicting the club to ESPN Soccernet, the deal has seemingly secured Portsmouth's future in the short-term after the dark final days of the Al-Fahim regime when players and staff went unpaid and financial ruin potentially loomed.

Now Mark Jacob, lawyer and business associate of Al-Faraj, has claimed that Portsmouth were on the brink of entering administration and incurring a potentially ruinous ten-point penalty from the Premier League.

"Discussions took place over the weekend and realistically yesterday was D-Day," Jacob told The Portsmouth News. "Had it gone on one or two more days the directors may well have had to put the club in to administration."

Optimism has now returned to a small degree at Portsmouth, but with the club bottom of the table having lost seven of their opening eight games in the league, complacency is hardly likely to set in at Fratton Park.

The January transfer window will be Al Faraj's first chance to strengthen the squad as the club fight to avoid relegation and Jacob has pledged that funds will be released for manager Paul Hart. The new regime also remain committed to improving Portsmouth's training facilities and building a new stadium.

"All I can say is it's going to be substantial, not the sort of situation we had with Sulaiman Al Fahim," Jacob said of his associate's likely level of investment. "Had we taken over six weeks ago [when a first takeover attempt was rebuffed in favour of Al-Fahim], we could have pushed on with various activities with a number of parties to bring money in but these were wasted.

"The first priority is to pay the players, in January we are looking to target the transfer window to ensure come April or May we are not in the danger zone, so to speak. The training ground is part of the plan. Obviously, dealing with the stadium as well. Things will come in stages.

"We are in position, now we need to look to the next week, the next month and next couple of months and put the right foundations in place because the foundations put in place before were rocky and shaky so we need to stabilise that first."

Having lost control of the club, Al-Fahim now claims he will soon be in possession of the £50 million he had been hoping to raise to strengthen the club's finances and will make it available again should Pompey require more cash. Al-Fahim, who retains a 10% stake, has also stated that an initial injection of capital helped Portsmouth stay afloat at the start of the season.

"I have invested in the club in August, where I saved the club from going into administration by the end of the month," Al-Fahim told Radio Solent. "When they sold 90% of the club to Al-Faraj's consortium, I did not ask for a penny to pay me back - I asked him to invest more in the club."

Meanwhile, Portsmouth have confirmed that players and staff were finally paid on Tuesday. It was announced on Thursday that payroll payments had not been processed and it was initially hoped they would be on Friday. However, the delay has now come to an end.

A club statement read: "Contracts were signed between the parties on Monday to enable funds to be released to pay the players and executive board on Tuesday."

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