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Oct 8, 2009

Saudi chief says he has never heard of Al Faraj

The head of the Saudi Arabia league, Dr Hafez Al Medlej, has said that he has never heard of Portsmouth's new owner, Ali Al Faraj, and claims that takeovers at Manchester City and Pompey could lead to middle-eastern investors targeting another ten English teams.

Al Faraj's takeover at Pompey was announced this week, while Manchester City were bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 - and Liverpool have recently been linked with investment from Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud.

''I hope Al Faraj has success, but we never heard of this guy,'' he said at the Leaders In Football summit at Stamford Bridge. ''I asked my friends and no-one knows him. For three days, I see there is no picture of him in the Saudi papers.

''If he comes with the money and leaves the management to those who know about it then that's good.''

''In one year's time, if there was no backfire and everyone is settled, I am sure at least ten more investors will come. Not necessarily to the Premier League. They might come and buy some clubs at the Championship level.''

In contrast, Al Medlej is fully aware of Prince Faisal, who has been involved in discussions with George Gillett, one half of the American ownership with Texan Tom Hicks, about buying at least a part-share in Liverpool.

''They will benefit from the money that he will inject to the club,'' he added. ''It will help them bring world-class players. They have Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard and if they bring in two more they will be hot favourites again to win the league, or the Champions League.

''He is a guy with a sports mentality, he is passionate about football and he is successful in business. He's a great value to the club.''

Al Medlej also responded to criticism about foreign investors targeting English clubs.

''There was no harm done for Manchester United being taken over by Americans,'' he said. ''So why not? If the businessman will come, inject the money and leave football decisions to the football people then it's no problem.

''They just want the success. The passion comes within that. In Saudi, you have to have passion for the club.''

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