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Oct 25, 2009

Ali Al-Faraj denies purchasing Portsmouth on a whim

Portsmouth's new owner Ali Al-Faraj is adamant that his commitment to the club is a long-term one, despite recent suggestions to the contrary.

Al-Faraj rescued Pompey from possible administration when purchasing the club from Sulaiman Al-Fahim at the start of October but his long-term intentions have been debated in recent days. A contentious interview, alleged to have been given to newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, has stirred debate, with Pompey threatening legal action against the publication.

But Al-Faraj has attempted to reassure Portsmouth supporters that is not looking for a quick sale and has pointed to his appointment of Avram Grant as director of football as evidence that he has the club's long-term interests at heart.

"When I bought Portsmouth I made it clear I would stay in the background and allow a management team to run the club headed up by chief executive Peter Storrie," Al-Faraj told the Sunday Mirror. "This acquisition is entirely separate to my other businesses and I didn't purchase the club intent on having to justify my actions or fall under public scrutiny.

"I didn't buy Portsmouth on a whim. My interest in the club has manifested itself over a period of time and I never intended to make a quick investment and get out. I'll be applying some of my business expertise and investing money to bring stability.

"Even when my initial bid failed I never gave up hope of securing the club and honestly felt that another opportunity would present itself. When Peter came to me requesting a short-term loan to help the club it was at my suggestion that perhaps it would be more conducive for me to buy the club outright.

"I think the former owner, Sulaiman Al-Fahim, realised the precarious position he was in when he was unable to secure funding in time to save the club and a deal was very quickly agreed. And one of the reasons I made immediate changes to the board and brought in Avram Grant was to assure people that I was serious about the club. As it is, I watch all Portsmouth games at home and it's my intention to come to the club in the next few weeks."

Al-Faraj has also pledged that money will be made available for reinforcements in the January transfer window. However, despite the club sitting bottom of the table, the management staff appear largely satisfied with the squad at their disposal.

"There has been far too much uncertainty surrounding the club," Al-Faraj said. "Obviously staying in the Premier League is the main priority, but there are other issues that must be addressed. One of them will be funding to strengthen in January.

"Money will be made available, but based on the assessment of the playing staff by Paul Hart and Avram Grant it's likely we'll only bring in three or four players in key areas."

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