Fans in limbo as rumours fly over Pompey takeover

Balram Chainrai
Balram Chainrai
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

Picture gallery: Pompey 1 Walsall 1

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FANS are being left in the dark as the move to buy Pompey reaches its climax.

It’s still expected that the deal will go through in time for the last home game of the season, as predicted by The News on April 14.

But right up to the last minute, all parties are keeping their cards close to their chests.

There have been reports that Balram Chainrai has clinched the deal with Russian firm Convers Sports Initatives for £17m. But Phil Hall, Mr Chainrai’s spokesman, refused to confirm the deal and said: ‘It’s one of the options we’re looking at. But they don’t think it’s right to talk about any business until it’s confirmed – it would be wrong to do so at this stage.’

And Vladimir Antonov, who is behind the bid with colleagues Roman Dubov and Chris Akers, is reported to have passed the Football League’s fit and proper person test, a major hurdle in taking over the running of the Blues.

However, the Football League wouldn’t say whether anyone had passed the test.

A spokesman said: ‘We have received a submission and there’s no timescale with these, it depends on each individual club and case. It’s still under consideration.’

Despite numerous groups having registered an interest in taking over the club, this is the first time since Pompey went into administration that anyone has gone this far.

But posting yesterday on the Facebook group of Convers Sports Initiatives in response to a fan’s query about the latest reports, Mr Dubov replied: ‘I don’t think the info is real. Difficult to do any type of deals with Levi (Kushnir) and Balu (Chainrai).’

Mr Dubov failed to return The News’ calls.

Fan Colin Farmery of truebluearmy.com said: ‘We’ve been hearing it’s going to happen this week for a while now. It’s so difficult to call – we’ve been in this situation three or four times with this Convers Sports group and I’m sure they are seriously interested in buying the club but we have to wait and see.

‘There hasn’t been any confirmation yet, though, so I’m not going to get excited.

‘They’ve been pretty discreet for the past few weeks and I welcome that there haven’t been lots of leaks from Convers’ end, which I think is a positive sign.’

Fan Basher Benfield, of the Portsmouth FC Supporters Club Central Branch, speaking from on the bus after yesterday’s draw at Burnley, said: ‘We’ve been down this road too many times before.

‘If the paperwork stacks up and they’ve got the money, then it’ll be great, but no-one’s getting carried away.

‘Everyone on the bus feels pretty much the same way.’

Last night a source in Russia claiming to be close to the deal said that it was in jeopardy because of demands being made by Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir.