Former Chelsea boss Avram Grant has been appointed the new director of football at Portsmouth, the club have confirmed, after billionaire Saudi businessman Ali Al Faraj bought the club from Sulaiman Al-Fahim earlier this week.
Grant led Chelsea to a Champions League final defeat against Manchester United in 2008, but had become technical director at Fratton Park when he arrived in England in 2006, before moving on to Stamford Bridge. The Israeli's return to Portsmouth will be his first job in football since leaving Chelsea.
"I am happy to return to the best league in the world, the English league," Grant told Israeli sports website One, adding he had signed a three-year contract.
Pompey keeper David James has backed the appointment of Grant. ''I love Avram, he's a great guy,'' said James at a press conference ahead of England's World Cup qualifier in Ukraine on Saturday. ''When I first joined the club he was there and he was very active in preparation for matches. He's a very wise man; his football knowledge is immense. It's a very good move.''
James is hopeful Grant's arrival and the takeover by Al Faraj will bring some much needed stability to the club.
''The non-pay issue was not good,'' he added. ''The people who needed to get paid got paid but it was more the bigger picture. Now we've got our first win and our first clean sheet, it's a much happier place.''
The news of talks with Grant emerged as chief executive Peter Storrie moved to deny claims that Paul Hart was to be replaced as manager.
"Paul is going nowhere. He has done a tremendous job throughout and been an absolute brick," Storrie told The News. "Now people are starting to see what a shrewd manager he really is. Tactically he is getting it right and is nurturing the team. I think everyone involved in the club saw the victory against Wolves coming."
Storrie is also adamant that Grant's arrival will not impact on the job Hart is doing at Fratton Park, adding: "People can construe it how they like - the fact is he (Grant) has been brought in as a director of football and that has been made abundantly clear. He will work with Paul and do exactly the same as what he did with Harry. He will be involved in the coaching. Paul selects the team but he is missing an experienced man alongside him at the moment.''