SJ MASKELL: Same Old, Same Old: Lessons from History as Takeover Edges Nearer
By SJ Maskell
Monday 18 Apr 2011 11:41:00
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In mid-August 2009, when the Al Fahim buy-out saga was dragging its heels through the detritus of the transfer window, Radio Solent held a Pompey fans forum. At this forum Peter Storrie dropped heavy hints that he had an alternative to Al Fahim. Arabs with serious money he suggested, off-air.

By 24 August speculation was rife. Pompey-fans.com ran an article entitled ‘Pick A Prince’ [click here to read it] based on information from Storrie. Thought to be Qatari’s linked to royalty, Pompey-fans backed Sheikh Tammim Bin Hamad Al Thani as the favourite. PFC was on its way to ‘a level you would not quite believe,’ as Storrie would have it.

Storrie became confident that his consortium would succeed after Fahim failed to meet a seven-day ultimatum set by Sacha Gaydamak.

On 26 August a deal was finally struck. With Al Fahim.

Fans, deprived of their Qatari Prince, joined Peter Storrie in his condemnation of Sacha whose actions he described as ‘the ultimate betrayal.’ As Peter continued his attempt to ‘save’ Pompey with a somewhat manic transfer spending spree that is still biting the club now, fans decided enough was enough in terms of misleading ownership wrangles and formed the Pompey Virtual Alliance - a coalition of websites – as a response to the distrust felt in the stories coming out of the club. Peter Storrie was happy to meet with the group, which he continued to feed with information, such as the fact that Fahim had not refinanced the club, told to a PVA meeting, denied in the press a day later.

So continued the anti-Fahim media campaign until the Fratton End were whipped up into singing, ‘There’s only one Peter Storrie’ and he was able to cry his love for the club on Quay radio. A love epitimised by his destabilising talk of administration being imminent from the start of Fahim’s takeover.

The rest, as they say, is history. By 6 October Falcondrone had control of the club and Balram Chainrai held a £6m charge on Fratton Park. Within a month Peter Storrie was having to ask Daniel Azougy for permission to pay agents. The Qatari prince turned out to be ‘Al Mirage,’ and fans felt used, bruised and abused as a result of those Summer-time  manipulations.

Given this background; given the ensuing campaign of mis-information and spin led by Falcondrone representative, and Chainrai’s lawyer, Mark Jacob; given the protests and visits to the Premier League by Pompey fans, what have we learned?

Well it would seem, according the actions of our current owners, we have learned nothing. Or so they think. Article continues here


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First came their ‘negotiation through the media’ tactics on October 22. By declaring the club about to be liquidated due to the refusal of Sacha to sign the agreement to bring the club out of administration, they brought anxious fans onto Frogmore Road. Liquidation never happened. But the owners used fans to make a point in their battle with Gaydamak.

Then came the January transfer window with protests threatened. Buyers materialise; promises are made of players in; Lampitt does a speaking tour of fans’ groups. Sky are given an interview wherein Chainrai declares his ‘victim’ status and states, with puckish charm, that he is falling in love with Pompey - all the while consigning protesting fans to another planet.

Owner opinion of fans’ intellect is made clear with the announcement of next season’s ticket prices, an underestimation too far. Fans’ groups negotiate a concession – the lengthening of the early-bird period. Good start, but where next?

More buyer news materialises.

You have to ask; why break the news on Sky before the deal is done? Why is CSI’s Roman Dubov negating Keith Harris’s statements? Why is Mr Chainrai only speaking to the South China Morning Post? Is it another publicity surge to keep fans quiet? If so – why nothing in the Nationals? Why nothing on the viability of CSI anywhere? Or is Mr Chainrai so desperate he needs to pressurise buyers … déjà vu?

Pompey fans are fair people. Even now some want to give Chainrai a chance. Be aware: PFC’s owners have no compunction in using the fans’ love for the club in their manipulations. We are wide open to having that love abused again. Parallels with the Summer of 09 are there. Question, question, question them. Use that well known Pompey scepticism to look for the truth. Time to learn from history - judge PFC’s owners by their actions, not their words.

SJ Maskell also writes for:
Twohundredpercent and Shoot!


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