Deal or no deal? It's out of my hands

Police operation identifies cars on Hampshire roads without insurance

POMPEY'S chief executive says the club's takeover bid now rests firmly in the hands of Sulaiman Al Fahim and current owner Sacha Gaydamak.

In an exclusive interview with The News, Peter Storrie said he had no idea when the deal would happen.

But he called on fans to remain positive and to support the club through these difficult times.

Storrie said: 'I don't know when the deal will be complete. It's still in negotiations between the two parties. My understanding is it's moving closer and closer to an agreement but it's outside my control.

'My job is to still run this club on a day-to-day basis and make sure I keep this club alive in time for someone to take it over, and that has been my number one priority.

'My role was purely bringing someone to the table. Then it goes between Sacha's trust and Al Fahim.'

Dubai property tycoon Al Fahim has completed due diligence – the evaluation of the club – and has passed the Premier League's fit and proper person test.

But more than two months since beginning the takeover process it is believed the deal has stalled while Gaydamak and Al Fahim thrash out negotiations about the club's 27m debts.

Storrie said he met Al Fahim in Portsmouth on Tuesday and will be meeting with him today to find out how close the club is to securing a new owner.

However, he conceded the process had taken far longer than originally anticipated. 'Due diligence is over. That's all done. It's just how long this final point takes,' he said.

'I just cannot tell you whether that's going to be a day, a week or a month. I genuinely don't know.

'It's a longer process than I thought it was going to be, than everybody thought it was going to be, and there are obviously mechanisms and reasons behind that purely between the parties.

'I can understand the supporters and am fully behind their frustrations at the moment. Every one of them will turn round and say the most important thing is we survive.

'What I say to fans now is, as much as we possibly can we will keep them updated but they have to understand there's not much to say and some things are confidential. While understanding their complete frustration we need their support as well. We need them to get behind us.'

Storrie also praised Gaydamak in the wake of criticism he has received from some fans. 'Sacha has been fantastic for this club. He has invested such a lot of money, time and effort and finance. Most of the debts, apart from bank loans, are Sacha's and money he has put into the club,' he said.

'Through no fault of his own the credit crunch hit him badly, as it did a lot of business people nine months ago. He was then unfortunately in a position where he couldn't put any finance into the club and felt it was right to put the club up for sale.'

With no financial backing since Gaydamak's decision to sell nine months ago, Storrie said star players such as Lassana Diarra, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch had to be sold to make sure 'we are in a position to keep on going'.

The club haven't replaced staff who have left and have trimmed their running costs, such as company cars. But he denied Pompey were on the verge of going under.

He said: 'A lot of people have mentioned us being close to administration but we have never done that. We tried to keep away from that as far as we can.'

Storrie said the club's main revenue had been coming from the 20,000 fans packing into Fratton Park. And he said the latest Sky TV cash would go on repaying the club's debts.

'I've never gone through a period like this,' he added.

'At times it has been very, very difficult. At times it's been hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

'There's a lot fans can do for us, coming to games, filling the stadium every week. We understand their frustrations but we also need their support.'