Thursday, May 28, 2009
Sulaiman Al-Fahim brokered the deal whereby Abu Dhabi Group (for which he is a member of the board) took over Manchester City. Okay, fine, he helped out some of his potentate friends when they needed a new play-thing. Only now, Al-Fahim (excuse me, Dr. Al-Fahim) has bought Pompey from embattled owner Sacha Gaydamak (cue the "you know how I know you're gay" jokes) for an undisclosed amount. While the club is currently £65m in debt (that's slightly over $100 million - Abramovich thinks that number is "cute"), an influx of Middle Eastern oil and real-estate money is likely to fix that issue soon enough. But there are other issues lurking.
Al-Fahim has an MBA from the Kogod (who knew Unsilent Majority had his own school!) School of Business at American University, and received his Ph.D. from American as well, so he presumably knows what he is doing. An alleged child chess prodigy, he founded a sports financing company (the Sulaiman Al Fahim Group) at age 18, and is currently the CEO of Hydra Properties, a United Arab Emirates real estate company he founded in 2005 at age 28. The latter has reeled in over $2 billion in real estate projects, leading Al-Fahim to describe himself as a billionaire philanthropist (note: people younger than me should not be richer than me).
Today some more details regarding the sale of Portsmouth were announced, and Al-Fahim noted that his financing was obtained with the help of a "network of Asian and Middle Eastern investors" including Falcon Equity, for which he is also a board member. The latter was also involved in an aborted purchase of Chelsea earlier this year, so it is clear that Al-Fahim has been looking to get involved with another EPL team for some time now.
There has been the usual talk regarding staying true to the Pompey faithful and making moves to get the club into European competition, but given Al-Fahim's previous comments regarding potential Man City transfer targets Ronaldo, David Silva, and everyone else under the sun (none of which came to fruition) one has to wonder how much of this bluster will come true. However, the bigger concern has been the connection to the Man City purchase and how that will affect how Pompey conduct their business on the pitch. If Man City need 3 points for a spot in Europe and they play a Portsmouth club with nothing to gain or lose, will the latter lay down? Al-Fahim claims that his involvement with Man City ended immediately after the deal last September, but he remains a board member of Abu Dhabi group.
Even more importantly, if I was a Pompey supporter I would be worried that my club has just been bought by the Middle Eastern Donald Trump.