A POMPEY fan who began a blog about the club’s would-be owners says he is facing bankruptcy after he tried to stand up for the football club he loves.
Mike Hall, who wrote a series of posts about members of the Keith Harris consortium this year before Portsmouth Football Club was eventually bought by its fans, says he faces a £15,000 to £20,000 legal bill.
One of the articles focused on Malaysian bankers Pascal Najadi and his father Hussain, and prompted the family to threaten Mike and fansnetwork.com, on which the blog was published, with court action unless the blog was removed and an apology issued.
Mr Hall said: ‘It was taken down, but I stood and still stand by everything I wrote.
‘That’s why I went to court. I knew I was right.’
During the ensuing libel legal battle both sides ran up massive legal bills.
‘I had to sell my house,’ said Mr Hall. ‘If I hadn’t, Najadi could have put a charge over it – essentially had a mortgage on it and I could have lost it. This has had a huge impact on my family.’
After months of legal wrangling the case against Mr Hall was struck out by the court, but the Najadi family had refused to sign a court document which would see them pay costs if they failed to win. That means Mr Hall has to go through the courts to get the bills paid.
There is a further complication in that Hussain Najadi was assassinated around a fortnight ago, and now Pascal is in Russia.
Mr Hall, who is now Pompey’s engagement manager, said: ‘There has been a long legal process which has ended up in the action being struck out.
‘Now we have a costs order against them and we’ll go through the courts to recover the money either from the estate of Hussain Najadi or from Pascal Najadi.
‘But if we don’t recover the money, I will have to pay it and it will potentially leave me with a £15,000 to £20,000 bill for an action I neither sought out nor wanted. I would be bankrupted.’
He added: ‘This is a terrible thing, what has happened to Pascal Najadi’s father, and my condolences go out to him, but this really does bear out exactly what we were saying about the kinds of people trying to take over our football club – we want to know who you are, where you’re from.
‘Could you imagine if the consortium had taken Pompey over and the main backer had been killed two days before the start of the season?’
Mr Najadi, speaking to The News from Russia, said he still wanted Mr Hall to apologise and would not be paying all the costs.
He said: ‘What I expect him to do is make a statement about the information that was wrong, which hurt my father and my family.
‘I have my costs and he has his.’
THE MAN WHO WANTED THE KEYS TO FRATTON PARK
PASCAL Najadi was introduced to Pompey by Keith Harris, best known as one of the team which sold Chelsea FC to Roman Abramovich.
Harris put together a consortium of people to fund the purchase of Portsmouth Football Club, including investment banker Mr Najadi, and investor Alan Hitchins.
Mr Najadi is Arab Investments for Asia Kuwait Limited (AIAK) Group chairman, a position he inherited after his father, Hussain Najadi, the bank’s founder, was assassinated on July 29.
Pascal Najadi is currently in Moscow, Russia.
Despite the death of his father, and the summary dismissal of his consortium’s bid for Pompey by the Football League, Mr Najadi said he still wishes the club well.
Speaking to The News from Russia, he said: ‘I wish peace and love to Portsmouth Football Club, and I wish again it will rise up and be a successful club. I have no issue with Mike Hall any more.’
‘I am still in shock about my father’s death, and I can’t take any undue risks with my safety. My father was assassinated.’