More on Portsmouth’s woes
Posted by John Beech on December 20, 2009
Since my last posting on Pompey (1), not a great deal has happened off the pitch it would seem. On the pitch, Liverpool have been defeated, with the media reporting this as ‘Rafa this’ and ‘Rafa that’, largely failing to give credit either to the Portsmouth players or to Avram Grant, notwithstanding the statistics for the game (2), which suggest an impressive performance. However…
David Hurley of the Portsmouth Evening News has highlighted the fact that January will prove a critical month for the club (3). With debts estimated at £60m, the club will face demands for:
- £10m by way of football creditor payments to other clubs (including those due to Watford [see postings passim]);
- £9m due to previous owner Sacha Gaydamak, disputed as to whether this owed by the club or by Sulaiman Al Fahim personally;
- repayments due to banks.
While the club may be happy to focus on the positives of the result against Liverpool (4), they are becoming increasingly mired with legal actions against past and present key personnel:
- Peter Storrie faces prosecution by HMRC (5), a case which Storrie believes is ‘seriously flawed’ (6);
- former manager Harry Redknapp faces prosecution by HMRC (7) over matters which relate to his days at Pompey, but which Redknapp dismisses as ‘farcical’.
We shall have to wait and see whether their optimism is justified, and, if it isn’t, what the ramifications for the club are.
Meanwhile, David Hurley also reports that “Israeli lawyer Daniel Azougy is now in charge of Pompey’s books… Reports that Azougy has [sic] convictions for fraud has only added to the uncertainty surrounding the club.”
Paul Jiggins of The Sun is more specific: “Disgraced lawyer Daniel Azougy is controlling the club’s finances, despite a string of convictions for fraud dating back eight years. He was found guilty of FOUR counts of embezzling client funds in Israel in 2002. He was sentenced to five months in prison – but did not spend any time behind bars as he was allowed to do his time in community service instead. Azougy was also banned from practising law by the Israeli Bar Association for FOURTEEN YEARS. Then in March this year, Fratton Park’s new finance man was sentenced to two months’ community service and a year’s probation – and fined £25,000 – for a securities fraud resulting from a dodgy share transfer back in 1999.Azougy was found to have lied to the Israeli Stock Exchange bosses over the deal. He got off with a light sentence because the offence happened 10 years earlier.” (8)
It would appear that the ineffectual Fit and Proper Person test doesn’t in any case apply to him because, as Jiggins reports the club as saying, “He is working for the owners on finance, but he hasn’t got an official title.” Oh well, obviously there’s no problem there then.
Clearly Pompey is in for a turbulent month.