Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Portsmouth: the still continuing soap

Posted by John Beech on February 19, 2010

On Wednesday the news was that a local arrest warrant had been issued for the club’s still Non-Executive Chairman Sulaiman Al Fahim (1), I wondered yesterday as I drove down to Portsmouth for the 5 Live Portsmouth Fans Forum (2; available for 1 week in UK only) what news might break during my journey.  Sure enough, I arrived to find reports that a request had been made to the Premier League to be able to sell players outside the transfer window (3).  This presumably is code for asking for permission for other clubs to be allowed to buy Pompey players outside the window.

Quite how this might work without provoking rioting is unclear.  FIFA may yet give permission just to enjoy the mayhem this would cause in among fellow Premier League clubs.

The mood of the meeting, held perhaps with intended irony at the Moneyfields Sports and Social Club, itself just along the road from The Jolly Taxpayer pub, was one of resignation overlaid with a touch of déjà vu.  There was some bewilderment and confusion over who to blame for the club’s predicament, although we were spoilt for choice.  The only moment that created genuine excitement was an expression of amazement at Peter Storrie’s salary.

My friend, colleague, and fellow Pompey fan Jon Guest tends to explain supporting Pompey by quoting John Cleese from a low point in his personal life: “I can cope with despair. It’s the hope I cannot handle.” This seems to capture the mood of the meeting.

That is not to say that there was any sense of defeatism.  On the contrary, the newly formed Portsmouth Supporters Trust was there in strength, and there was a clear feeling that ‘we fight on’.

Today’s news story is the emergence of New Zealander Victor Cattermole as a potential purchaser of the club (4).  Cattermole would fit well with certain previous owners.  He has a penchant for companies based in the British Virgin Islands (he’d fit in well with Ken Bates too), and advertising for his online investment programme has been banned by the New Zealand Securities Commission (5).  It actually went further, warning people about committing any money to the scheme (6).  Doubtless he would sail through the Premier League’s Fit and Proper Person Test, or should that be ‘drive a coach and horses through’?


3 Responses to “Portsmouth: the still continuing soap”

  1. John Beech said

    The arrest warrant against Sulaiman Al Fahim has been conditionally withdrawn (1), and he has been given one month to repay Dh8m (roughly £1.4m).

  2. John Beech said


    The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the the Premier League are not prepared to allow Pompey to sell players even though FIFA had given its permission (1). As reporter Paul Kelso puts it, “If Portsmouth had been granted their request it would have fatally undermined the intellectual and philosophical basis of the League, as well as the rule-book. “. A tad fanciful, but I’m sure you catch his drift – there would have been a riot from most of the other clubs

    Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has made some interesting observations (2). [It’s nine points, James!]

  3. John Beech said


    Amongst a number of press reports that Sulaiman Al Fahim is to resign as Non-Executive Chairman, Arabian Business is reporting that he has done so (1) complete with a copy of the ‘Private & Confidential’ letter (2).

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