• Premier League

Chainrai takes over Pompey but seeks new owner

ESPN Soccernet staff
February 4, 2010
Ali al-Faraj has built up a series of failed payments © Getty Images

Portsmouth have been taken over by Balram Chainrai, after he exercised his right to buy a 90% shareholding, but the Hong Kong businessman has no interest in running the club himself.

Chainrai, who has lent £20 million to the cash-strapped club, reportedly made his move after Ali Al Faraj, who had been the most elusive of football club owners and had not even attended a match since his takeover in October, missed several deadlines on repaying the loans that had been made to keep the club going.

He claimed 90% of the current owner's shareholding and will put Portsmouth in the hands of chief executive Peter Storrie while attempting to find a buyer for the fifth time.

A club spokesman told Soccernet: "Chainrai has exercised his rights until the default payments drawn up by Fulgars are completed, which allows him to take over the 90% shareholding in the club.

"This agreement was drawn up as part of the loan agreements. The club has reneged on those payments and he has exercised his rights to take over the club. But he is not coming in long term, just to safeguard his investment, and then together with Peter Storrie will be seeing a new takeover."

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However, Mark Jacob, the executive director who works for Fulgars, and represents the owners, is contesting whether Chainrai can go ahead with seizing control.

Jacob told Soccernet: "Both parties have not complied with the loan agreement. Chainrai had a charge over the property, but I don't believe he can come in and become the new owner."

Jacob's own position is under pressure as the club also confirmed the exit of Daniel Azougy, the controversial Israeli lawyer convicted of fraud in his home country, who has been working as a financial advisor for Al Faraj. A Pompey insider also confessed that Portsmouth still fear a winding-up order from HMRC on Wednesday.

Portsmouth failed to 'strike out' the order in the High Court and have appealed, but the insider told Soccernet: "We have lodged the appeal, but it now looks possible it will all be heard on the Wednesday together with the winding up order. We would hope our appeal will succeed but you never know."

Portsmouth have so far paid £4 million of the sum HMRC claims is still owed - understood to be over £11 million - but Pompey are disputing the amount of VAT. However, with the club unable to successfully sort out the repayments of loans to Chainrai, the businessman is panicking over whether the winding up order will succeed and he will lose the vast majority of his loans.

Unfortunately for Pompey, the first owner of the season, Sacha Gaydamak, has a £28 million 'charge' on the land, which, in reality, is what all the owners have been fighting over. Chainrai has a charge over land that Gaydamak will not release until he is paid, and already he is £9 million late with instalments.

Gaydamak and Chainrai will be the biggest losers if the club is wound up, which is becoming ever more likely. Portsmouth would then go into administration, docked ten points and be condemned to relegation.

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