The Demise of Portsmouth: Part Three

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The Demise of Portsmouth: Part Three
(Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

Despite appearing to be on the rise after an FA Cup title in 2008 and rewarded a spot in the 2008-2009 UEFA Cup, Portsmouth have found themselves in last place in the English Premier League, and currently are a team in crisis.

Currently, Portsmouth find themselves in last place in the English Premier League and despite a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton on Saturday October 3, they still currently find themselves in last place in the EPL.

To make matters worse, Portsmouth are extremely close to declaring bankruptcy, and they could become the first Premier League club since Leeds United in 2003-2004 to declare bankruptcy.

With this situation, I decided to create a three part series documenting how Portsmouth have gotten into this terrible situation.

In the first part, I documented Portsmouth's 2007-2008 FA Cup winning season, and the beginning of the 2008-2009 season.

A link to that article could be found here.

In the second article, I focused on the aftermath of Harry Redknapp leaving Pompey for Tottenham Hotspur, and the remainder of Portsmouth's 2008-2009 season and the acquisition of the club by Sulaiman Al-Fahim in May of 2009.

A link to that article could be found here.

In the third and final part of my three part series, I will focus on the takeover of Portsmouth during the summer of 2009, the financial issues that now constrict the club, Pompey's historically terrible start to the 2009-2010 English Premier League season, and the new takeover by the Al-Faraj brothers that appears to be ready to be completed, giving Portsmouth yet another owner in 2009.

 

The Al-Fahim Takeover

With some already some financial problems streaming from last year in which rumors circulated that a large portion of money earned is going solely to players and players such as Jermaine Defoe getting sold to be used to "fix" their financial problems, Portsmouth owner Alexander Gaydamak decided to sell the club to Suaiman Al-Fahim in May of 2009.

With the takeover, Al-Fahim had to take the Fit and Proper Persons test in July, which he passed, and it became rumored that he would become the new owner of Portsmouth by the end of the summer transfer window, and he would inject some much needed cash into the club.

But as this was taking shape, the financial situation for Pompey was going from bad to worse.

 

The Financial Situation (Summer Transfer Window)

In the beginning of the 2008-2009 Premier League season, it was reported that Portsmouth were a club that was going to soon hit a major financial crisis, as they were using up almost all of their expenses on the players, and they were soon going to run out of money, which would cause a major fire sale of players from Fratton Park.

However, Pompey only got rid of several players during the January transfer window, with Jermaine Defoe and Lassana Diarra being the two biggest players who left Fratton Park.

However, as the summer transfer window approached with Al-Fahim still not in charge of Portsmouth and with a lack of money, Portsmouth had no option to start a fire sale in order to keep the club afloat.

The first person to leave was Glen Johnson to Liverpool for 17 million pounds, and after Johnson left, more and more players started to leave Fratton Park for large amounts of money coming back to Portsmouth.

The players who were sold to opposing Premier League clubs included Peter Crouch, Sylvain Distin and Niko Kranjcar, but despite sending away the players with the most expensive salaries, Portsmouth were still in major trouble which would eventually continue past the summer transfer window.

 

The Financial Situation (Post Summer Transfer Window)

After the transfer window activity was closed in early September, Portsmouth continued their terrible form from August, as without many of their best players, they continued to struggle, as Portsmouth lost all seven of their Premier League matches of the season, and were struggling to get any form of consistency.

But, some even more disturbing information was starting to leak out of Portsmouth's management: There was no money left.

On October 1, Portsmouth's Chief Executive Peter Storrie admitted to the media that there was no money left, as all of the money that they had received from the transfers and from the Sky network had gone to repay their debt with Standard Bank.

Storrie also admitted that he wanted Al-Fahim to refinance on his loan, and had no idea about the conditions that Al-Fahim had with the 50 million pounds that he was supposed to get later on that month, and had no idea how much longer Portsmouth could be doing this.

However the next day, word broke about how bad the financial situation truly was.

Al-Fahim had to deliver at least 15 million out of his 50 million pound injection into the club by October 15 and if he didn't Portsmouth would go under.

There were groups of people who were demanding that they needed to get their money back and the Premier League was developing a way to help save Portsmouth in case they did go under.

And it later became revealed that none of the Portsmouth players had been paid in over a month, and were starting to demand their salaries within the next several days.

With all of this information out, it appeared that Portsmouth were about to go under, but the entire situation was just about to become a whole lot better.

 

The Al-Faraj Takeover

But just as everything appeared to be getting worse, a new savior was ready to help save Pompey from themselves.

This time, the new owner was going to be Ali Al-Faraj, a Saudi Arabian property magnate who was prepared to help Portsmouth to get out of their financial problems.

With Al-Faraj buying the club, Al-Fahim will keep a 10 percent stake in the club, and will hold the position of non-executive chairman, but he will hold no stake in Portsmouth's football decisions, and will hold the position for only two years.

Also, the players will be finally provided with their salaries after waiting nearly a month to get their paychecks, and Portsmouth will be saved from the brink of bankruptcy by their new owners.

And it also appears that Portsmouth will be able to start turning their season around with the new ownership as on Saturday, Pompey won their first Premier League match of the season at Wolverhampton 1-0.

Finally, after completing this report, I realized that Portsmouth are a club that have been in a terrible financial situation due to terrible financial planning, and this club is extremely fortunate right now that they are not bankrupt.

However, if the Al-Faraj management does everything right and works to correct Portsmouth's financial situation, Portsmouth could return to a strong team in the English Premier League, and will get the new stadium that they have been planning to replace Upton Park.

What will happen, who knows? But we do know that Portsmouth have had many up and downs over the last two years, and hopefully they don't ever have to deal with bankruptcy again.

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