5 February ~ After their midweek defeat at Fulham and another takeover at the club, Portsmouth have now picked up as many League wins as they have had owners this season. Balram Chanrai, a Hong Kong-based businessman, took charge of the club this week in a move that, while only temporary, seems promising for the club.
Chanrai took control from Ali al-Faraj on Wednesday after the supposed billionaire failed to pay back a £17 million loan made by Chanrai last October. The new owner has effectively taken the club over to save it from administration, provide some stability and then sell it on – saving his investment in the process. Resting on the logic that Chanrai must secure the club's future before he can sell, Colin Farmery, of the Pompey Supporters Trust, is hopeful: "Nobody would touch the club with a bargepole with the present lot in charge, but Mr Chainrai might be forced to get the club into a state where the finances are transparent and a proper deal can be done."
The club has stumbled from one mishap to another this season. Peter Storrie, the chief executive, and Milan Mandaric, a former owner, are facing accusations of tax evasion. Former manager Harry Redknapp is facing charges for tax fraud. And former owner Al-Faraj did not turn up to see the team he owned – but seemingly could not afford. The only relief has come in the form of Avram Grant's wife, who does not seem particularly bothered about her husband's visit to a local brothel: "If he had a good time there, that's cool. You men need it."
For a team five points adrift at the bottom of the league, Portsmouth have played some good football this season. As was typical of their season, they were the better team but still managed to lose at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night. At Old Trafford tomorrow they will meet a team who have experienced almost the opposite type of season. That Man Utd have managed to stay in touch with league leaders Chelsea says less about their quality and more about the competition's. Going by form then, Portsmouth will be the valiant losers, United will be the fortunate winners, and both sets of fans will be up in arms at the state of their clubs.