Saudi Arabian businessman Ali Al Faraj has sealed his takeover of English Premier League side Portsmouth, becoming the second new owner of the side in six weeks.
Sulaiman Al Fahim, who bought the football club just six weeks ago, has sold 90 percent of his stake to Ali Al Faraj’s holding company Falcondrone Limited according to the club’s Web site. Al Fahim will retain a 10 percent share of the club, who are currently bottom of the league after eight games, and stay on as a non-executive chairman. A statement on the Portsmouth Web site said: “The takeover will ensure Portsmouth football club’s future is safe and will bring financial stability. “Contracts have been signed between the parties to enable funds to be released to pay the players and executive board on Tuesday. “Once the takeover is complete the club will undergo refinancing in order to grow and develop every part of the business.”
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Uncertainty over Al Fahim’s finances grew last week after the Portsmouth players were not paid their wages and chief executive, Peter Storrie, was quoted saying “there was no money left.” Al-Faraj successful purchase comes after a previous failed attempt to buy the club in August, when former owner Alexander Gaydamak sold his majority shareholding to Al Fahim instead. But the Saudi Arabian was brought back to the table after Al-Fahim failed to seal the investment needed to prevent the club going bust. Portsmouth, who had lost their opening seven games in the worst start by a top-flight English club in 79 years, picked up their first victory of the season in a 1-0 away win to Wolves at the weekend. Al Faraj, 40, a property developer in the Middle East has already passed the Premier League’s fit and proper test. “Mr Al Faraj is very supportive of the club’s plans for a new training ground and the development of Fratton Park,” the club statement continued. Meanwhile, Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung effectively completed his takeover of Portsmouth’s Premier League rivals Birmingham City when his investment company Grandtop Holdings took its share ownership past the 90% mark on Tuesday. Grandtop announced it will take the promoted Midlands club off the Alternative Investment Market and into private ownership once it has completed a compulsory purchase on the remaining shares. The news means David Sullivan will leave along with chief executive Karren Brady, although his former co-owner David Gold is expected to stay as chairman. “Grandtop is pleased to announce that, all conditions of the offer having been satisfied or waived, the offer is hereby declared unconditional in all respects,” said a statement from the group. “As at 1 p.m. on October 6, Grandtop owned or had received valid acceptances of the offer in respect of a total of 76,620,136 Birmingham City shares, representing in aggregate approximately 94% of the current issued share capital of the club. “Grandtop intends, as soon as practicable, to exercise its rights to acquire compulsorily the remaining shares in respect of which the offer has not been accepted.” Yeung previously tried to buy Birmingham in 2007, but Sullivan and Gold ended talks after becoming frustrated by a lack of evidence that he would follow up his initial interest.