Location – Victory Suite – Fratton Park – BBC Radio Solent ‘Fans’ Forum’ – 13/08/2009 – Panel: Paul Hart; Peter Storrie.
Apologies: David James; Ivo Ilic Gabara (adviser to Sulaiman Al Fahim)
After spending so many weeks yearning for the completion of ‘Dr.’ Sulaiman Al Fahim’s takeover, of Portsmouth F.C, I woke up this morning almost not caring anymore. Of course, I was partially comforted by words from chief executive Peter Storrie, speaking at last night’s BBC Radio Solent ‘Fans’ Forum’.
Fans were allowed to pose questions to both manager Paul Hart and chief executive officer, Peter Storrie. David James was invited as a player representative, but unfortunately had to decline. Well known as an adviser to Al Fahim, Ivo Ilic Gabara was also invited but also had to decline. BBC Radio Solent did pass on the message however, that Al Fahim hoped to complete the takeover soon, attend Saturday’s match against Fulham and that he would be listening closely to the forum.
If he was listening to the forum, his pride may have been slightly dented, from the unlikeliest of people.
The question that really mattered was nearly missed, coming at the end of an eventful evening at Fratton Park. When one fan asked about the consequences if Al Fahim’s protracted takeover collapsed, Peter Storrie denied the club would be facing administration. Instead, Storrie rather cautiously said, ‘No, wait and see’.
Many fans left pondering what Storrie was keeping hidden. Although, the man can almost be forgiven for keeping some things secret, after being frank and deeply honest for much of the evening. He won many fans over last night, as he represented himself finally as a man who cared for the club and its fans. He was beginning to speak his own views rather than those influenced by current owner Alexandre Gaydamark.
Storrie was literally on fire, even criticising Tottenham and their manager Harry Redknapp in their approach to the transfer market. Pompey fans will be glad to hear Storrie would rather avoid conducting business with Tottenham in future affairs.
Regarding Peter Crouch’s hotly disputed transfer fee, Storrie claimed Crouch would not have moved to any other club apart from Spurs. Tottenham originally wanted to pay £6m for the England international, but on the final day of negotiations, Storrie upped the price to £9m.
On a night of revelations, Storrie cast doubt on Sulaiman Al Fahim’s takeover, implying the UAE businessman should either ‘show his money’ or remove himself from the deal. He didn’t know how negotiations were fairing and refused to comment on whether he thought the deal would go through or not.
Despite Storrie keeping quiet, fellow panellist and Pompey manager Paul Hart went one step further. When asked if the takeover would go through, Hart stated, in his own personal opinion, ‘No.’ Hart was confident some form of resolution would be reached during the season however.
Hart also revealed that despite negative media coverage, player and team morale was high, and the tag of being ‘early relegation candidates’ acted as an incentive to prove the critics wrong.
Sylvain Distin was officially confirmed as the new club captain, replacing outgoing defender Sol Campbell. Storrie reiterated his desire to keep hold of Distin, whom he and Paul Hart both value as a key member of team, on and off the pitch.
Storrie stated he would continue turning down bids for the French centre-half until told otherwise by Gaydamark.
Referring back to Storrie’s ‘wait and see’ comment, growing local speculation has suggested Peter Storrie is ready to launch his own takeover bid for the club, to rival that of Al Fahim’s. Storrie is said to have joined forces with former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, as well as another unnamed backer.
After last night’s performance, Storrie has gained a lot of support, and if this rumour is true then many fans may switch allegiance in wanting Storrie to become Portsmouth’s new owner.
It is interesting to observe both Paul Hart and Peter Storrie’s behaviour last night, as both acted ‘off the leash’. Storrie in particular, as he was far more open concerning the club to that of previous interviews with rival radio stations.
Storrie would have known being honest and transparent would have gained him much support from the fans, giving him the catalyst to launch a takeover bid.
If Al Fahim truly has the finances available to purchase the club, let alone move the club forward, there needs to be more action and fewer words on his behalf. He is in danger of losing support fast, while Storrie seems to becoming an increasing viable alternative.
Sulaiman Al Fahim has stated he will be appearing at Portsmouth’s first league encounter of the new season tomorrow, at Fratton Park to see his side ‘win’. Unfortunately for Al Fahim, the fans may be seeing him more as a ‘phoney’ than a ‘saviour’, a saviour we no longer need if Storrie is to be believed.