Thursday, July 16, 2009

Portsmouth Takeover Where are we?

There are a lot of rumours swirling around at the moment. So here is what I have heard about the takeover.

The due diligence process is complete. This is fact and has been verified by BBC & Sky Sports. What does it mean? Due diligence was the process where the prospective buyer (Sulaiman Al Fahim) goes over the owner's (Alexandre Gaydamak) books. The books were apparently a lot messier than was originally thought. I have heard rumours of dubious loans etc., but the process is complete which means that Sulaiman Al Fahim knows exactly how much money Portsmouth owes and who it owes it to.

The fit & proper persons test is underway. This is the test that the Premier League does on all owners to make sure that they have money, and came by it legitimately. The test used to be a joke, until the League came under a lot of pressure after it approved former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra who allegedly embezzled a lot of government funds. This process should take two weeks (ending on July 24th, 2009). Sulaiman Al Fahim has said he is not worried about it as he is also a UN goodwill ambassador and if he can pass the UN test he will surely pass the Premier League test.

Once the fit & proper persons test is complete the takeover can go ahead which brings me to the last sticking point. The price. It was initially reported that the takeover price would be around £60 Million. By the time that the takeover is completed Portsmouth will have sold Glen Johnson for £17Million and Peter Crouch for £12 Million. This has caused a delay in the due diligence and restarted negotiations about the price that Sulaiman Al Fahim wants to pay, as now the club is without its two best players. All indications are that a price will be agreed in advance of the completion of the fit and proper persons test. That means that on July 24th Sulaiman Al Fahim should be unveiled as the new owner of Portsmouth Football Club.

Who will be in charge? Paul Hart is still the interim manager and is running pre-season training that is underway. He will definitely still be at Portsmouth, but will likely revert to his old role as director of the academy, or perhaps become an assistant to the new manager if Brian Kidd does not stay on in that role. The next manager is likely to be either Slaven Bilić, currently in charge of Croatia or Roberto Mancini formerly of Inter Milan.

How many players do Portsmouth have? We currently have 15 senior players (over 18) under contract, but one of those is Peter Crouch who is certain to leave. Portsmouth will undoubtedly be buying more players before the transfer window closes. However the worrying news is that we may buy as few as five giving us a squad of 19 until the transfer window opens in January. Of the youth players - I think that only Matthew Ritchie is ready to try with the first team boosting the number to 20 which is really really small. If you are interested there are plenty of rumours about who the players are that will be signed, but I won't get into that here.

Why did it take so long? Partly because it was announced way too soon. The due diligence process usually happens behind the scenes, so does the fit and proper persons test, which is why you usually only hear about a takeover a day or two before the new people are actually in charge of the club. Because of the way that Portsmouth's season ended in a relegation battle instead of the top half of the table. I think it was a time for some good news, but this story broke the morning of the Champions League final. In May. It has been an extremely difficult couple of months, for Portsmouth fans, players, staff, everyone. It was simply announced too soon. Partly I believe to try to retain some of our star players, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel the journey to new ownership is almost over.

It may have been a rough ride, but there are plenty of Portsmouth Supporters that recall when we were sitting 91st out of 92 teams in the mid 70s, and where we are now is an awful lot better than where we were then.

Play Up Pompey!

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