POMPEY-FANS.COM: Has the time come for Al Fahim to move aside?
By Colin Farmery
Friday 02 Oct 2009 08:50:00
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Sulaiman Al Fahim's days as owner and Chairman of Portsmouth FC are surely numbered.

The latest fiasco where players wages went unpaid at the end of September - just days after the meeting when fans were promised £50 million of credit was coming over the horizon - is the last straw.

At the meeting last Friday Al Fahim was warned the club was becoming a laughing stock and fans would no longer take it. Less than a week later we've been humiliated in the national media again.

It is not with any great pleasure pompey-fans.com comes to this conclusion. Indeed this site, and its sister site truebluearmy.com, have been scrupulously fair in trying to give Mr Al Fahim every opportunity to show he really was capable of moving PFC forward.

As part of the self-styled Pompey Virtual Alliance, both sites supported the constructive dialogue initiated with both Chief Executive Peter Storrie and Al Fahim himself.

The statement on the club's official site in response to the non-payment of salaries however underlines that PFC is a club where we can no longer be quite sure who has their hand on the tiller.

Back in August, when Storrie launched a stunning attack on Al Fahim at the Radio Solent forum, we were of the view then that Storrie and Al Fahim could not work together in the long-term.

Privately those close to Al Fahim have indicated that Storrie was history once the money turned up. And yet Storrie is still there and calling the shots.

Despite a few twists and turns on the way - the latest being Storrie's somewhat surprising semi-endorsement of Al Fahim's 'letters of credit' last weekend - there is no doubt that relationship has now definitively broken down.

Experienced readers of what's said between the lines now know that Al Fahim is believed by the PFC board to have no money. So what next? Article continues here


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Pompey-fans.com doesn't doubt Al Fahim was a well-meaning individual. He genuinely wanted to help make PFC a sustainable top-flight club.

The sad conclusion is that he has been unable to do anything much since he took over at the end of August to deliver any of those objectives.

What Al Fahim has managed to do periodically, is pull a rabbit out of the hat to keep the wolf from the door. The latest was his much-vaunted letter of credit, put before fans last Friday, purporting to deliver £50 million to the club before the end of this month. It bought him some time. A proposed meeting with the Al Faraj brothers on Sunday looks like another.

However, the fact the credit note failed its first test, when an extension of the club's overdraft was needed to pay the bills, tells us pretty much everything we need to know about its credibility.

Besides, in the unlikely event the money is actually on its way, it says little for Al Fahim's management nous in allowing such a crucial bill as the players' salaries to go unpaid.

The fact there is a power struggle going on at Fratton Park - with Storrie apparently set to benefit should 'his' side win - requires the events of the past 48 hours and our interpretation of them to be handled with caution.

However, Al Fahim has continued to operate a fairly laissez-faire approach to the running of the club, allowing his Chief Executive to covertly and now overtly brief against him.

If Storrie is still in his post at Fratton Park on Monday morning, it is difficult to see a way back for Al Fahim. His Chief Executive is in open revolt and yet he doesn't sack him.

If Storrie is gone by Monday - as by any management text book worth its salt he should be - it is hard to see anything other than administration for PFC, unless Al Fahim has one last, spectacular card to play.

Even if he has the £50 million, that is a relative drop in the ocean compared to the finance needed to move PFC forward. Al Fahim seems able, at the very best, to be only capable of putting his finger in the dyke. The leak which sprang this week is likely to be the first of many unless things change and change fast.

Administration may well allow Storrie to orchestrate a salvage operation, unencumbered by the legal consequences of calling in the bailiffs. That is not the dream scenario, however. Far from it.

Arab business culture is founded on the notion of mutual respect. Our Anglo-Saxon brand of rough-and-tumble capitalism is far more adversarial.

While in many cases the two commercial cultures can co-exist, it is now clear that is not going to happen in this instance. Pompey-fans.com calls on Mr Al Fahim to step aside, for his own benefit, as much as the club's, and allow Peter Storrie the chance to bring forward the other investors he believes he has to show they can take the club forward.

Push has come to shove. And our trust is put in the devil we know...

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