PORTSMOUTH (AFP) – Saudi Arabian businessman Ali Al-Faraj has completed his takeover of English Premier League club Portsmouth, the club said.
The club confirmed on their website former owner Sulaiman Al-Fahim had sold 90 percent of the shares to Falcondrone Limited, a company owned by Al-Faraj, in a move freeing up funds to pay players and executives.
A statement on the Portsmouth website said: “The takeover will ensure Portsmouth Football Club’s future is safe and will bring financial stability.
“Once the takeover is complete the club will undergo refinancing in order to grow and develop every part of the business.
“Mr Al-Faraj is very supportive of the club’s plans for a new training ground and the development of Fratton Park.”
Al-Fahim retains a 10 percent share in the club and will remain as non-executive chairman until at least the end of next season, while Peter Storrie will continue in his role as chief executive.
Al-Fahim was willing to relinquish full ownership in the “best interests” of Portsmouth, his spokesman Ivo Gabara said earlier, just 43 days after buying the club from Alexander Gaydamak.
Al-Faraj, 40, who will be joined on the board by his associate Mark Jacob, has already passed the Premier League’s fit and proper person test following his involvement in the consortium that attempted to buy the club in late August.
On that occasion, Al-Faraj missed out when Gaydamak opted to sell his majority shareholding to AAA.
But Storrie brought Al-Faraj back to the table when doubts began to grow that Al-Fahim could attract the necessary funding in time to stop the club going bust.
Jacob told Sky Sports News: “He’s absolutely delighted and looking forward to working with the team and the players.
“He is a huge supporter of the English Premiership and he’s delighted to get involved.
“I anticipate the players will get their salaries tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Portsmouth are said to owe millions to clubs, agents and the Inland Revenue. Al-Faraj is reported to have supplied the five million pounds bridging loan needed to pay the wages of club staff.
Al-Fahim was forced to refinance Portsmouth after banks demanded immediate payment of all television receipts and profits from the last transfer window, totaling 35 million pounds.
Portsmouth prop up the Premier League after losing their opening seven matches – the worst start by an English top-flight club for 79 years – but they did get their first victory at Wolverhampton on Saturday as Hassan Yebda’s goal sealed a 1-0 win.