HALL RIGHT NOW: This club needs an enema
By Mike Hall
Saturday 03 Oct 2009 10:00:00
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The state of chaos surrounding the club is as bad as....well the last time things got this bad, in 1998, when Athole Still was trying to sell all the players for “rrrrrrrrrrreasonable prices” and they were scribbling their own values on their shirts.

On a day when Arkadi Gaydamak was indicted for money laundering and rumours of more arrests and charges swirled around other members of regimes past, Sulaiman Al Fahim checked himself into the hospital and Peter Storrie told us he didn't know how a loan from the Al Faraj Brothers might have been securitised, but it might involve using the club.

The failure to pay the wages 5 days after we were assured by Al Fahim that the club was trading on internationally recognised letters of credit means he is left without credit in my eyes as well as, apparently, the bank. He assured us talk of administration was mischievous and our bills could be paid using the letters. Once it hit the fan, Al Fahims' peoples claims about the magical letters seem to have gone the way of his £100m bonus – it's all gone quiet over there.

Every time Fahim has been under pressure he has made some announcement that has initially looked impressive but which has fallen apart under scrutiny. We were repeatedly told the takeover would be complete 'by the summer' and were categorically assured all the funding was in place. By Friday, this had become “I was always aiming for October” and the money won't be in place for weeks. We had an announcement the takeover was complete, “in principle” yet went through two more versions of the deal where he was only to be a minority shareholder subsequently before a second 'completion' in August. Of course, until Gaydamaks loans are paid it ain't complete. So it goes on, more announcements with the shelf life of a mayfly.

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Al Fahim has been desperately looking for someone to lend him the money while the CEO he can't afford to fire steadily sounds ever louder alarm bells and tries to overthrow him. We have now descended into complete farce as the people who didn't buy the club pay the wages while the person who did tells us his kidney stones won't affect his plans. What plans?

The very worst, (however unlikely), scenario might be if the money turns up. If he has borrowed £50m after 6 months of trying can you imagine what the terms might be? Fahim claims to be securing the loan, as did Sasha, but who gets to repay it? Surely, the club? Rumours of 22% interest rates, £8m pa repayments for 10 years abound. Such a deal would mean that relegation would equal administration. The idea that the club can afford that even in the premier league on a budget so desperately tight is fantasy. We are barely surviving one mountain of debt because we had some players to sell. This money would buy us nothing and just mean we got the debt back immediately but without any new assets to back it up, whatever terms it was on.

My attempts to get answers on these rumours from Al Fahims people (before todays hospital dash), in order to give them a fair chance to respond, met the usual pattern; patronising, evasive, followed by silence. Al Fahim was “on the phone” between Monday and Thursday night it seems. Lots of questions are being asked, by a lot of people yet even Storrie can't get them answered.

Al Fahim must go. He must step aside immediately. This club needs an enema.

And to the next owners I say this; we have had 50 years of vainglorious people running this club into the ground, arriving with bright promises and leaving with their tails between their legs, after selling all our players to avoid bankruptcy. Five decades of commercial failure and showing contempt for the supporters is enough. I told Fahim when he agreed to buy the club he should beware holding a tiger by the tail – and to anyone who thinks they can manipulate Pompey fans into blindly supporting their agenda I say: if we can drive him out, and he wouldn't be the first, you better make damn sure you hold yourselves to the same higher standard of transparency, honesty, delivery and partnership you preach because placards are very easy to make.

The views of Mike Hall are his own and don't necessarily reflect those of pompey-fans.com. ContactMike here: hallrightnow@pompey-fans.com

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