Thursday 28 May ~
So, a year after Man City fans established the trend, their counterparts at Portsmouth will soon be turning up to matches with tea towels on their heads. Perhaps one could even be stuffed into the bell of John "Mr Portsmouth" Westwood, the fool with the tattoos. There has been high excitement on Pompey messageboards today over the imminent purchase of the club by Dubai businessman Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim (his doctorate is a PhD in real estate management). The man who fronted the takeover of Man City a year ago now wants a club of his own.
The Al Nahyan family who own City marginalised their compatriot Al Fahim after his inane public boasting about the club's transfer targets and their supposed intention to become "bigger than Real Madrid and Manchester United". Dr Al Fahim is famous at home for fronting the UAE television's equivalent of The Apprentice where his catchphrase is "Impress Me". Yet the spin coming from "sources at Portsmouth" is that lessons have been learned and that Al Fahim realises the value of "building organically".
It has been suggested that anyone about to buy a pie should always check that Pini Zahavi doesn't have his finger in it. The Israeli super agent was involved in the preceding takeover of Portsmouth by Alexandre Gaydamak, son of a Tel Aviv-based entrepreneur who is wanted in France due to some misunderstanding over illegal arms shipments. Now he has apparently facilitated negotiations with Dr Al Fahim, which may in turn lead to a longstanding Zahavi buddy Sven-Goran Eriksson being brought in as manager. Zahavi smartly sorted out a job lot of international players for Sven when he took charge at Man City, so he would surely be capable of offering a similar service to Pompey, if asked.
No one could blame Portsmouth fans for being pleased at the news of Al Fahim's arrival. The club are said to owe at least £40 million to financial institutions, long-standing plans to move to a new ground were scrapped earlier in the year and they have 16 players out of contract; it's likely that relegation, which they avoided by seven points, would have sent them into administration. Now they have a new owner who, his spokesman claims, is focused on "developing the club's academy and training facilities".
Who would dream of doubting him? Or indeed of suggesting that Portsmouth will now become a revolving door for reasonably good but not outstanding players (such as some of the many Russian-based Brazilians) who are shipped out after a year when the club has failed to qualify for Europe? Dr Al Fahim, you see, has "fallen in love with Portsmouth and the south coast". Things can only get better. Rob Weston