Chainrai: Four groups in race to take over Pompey

Balram Chainrai
Balram Chainrai
Jacquie Shaw of the NMRN

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RELUCTANT Pompey owner Balram Chainrai has said there are as many as four groups looking to buy the club.

The Hong Kong businessman – who owns Portsmouth with his partner Levi Kushnir – insisted that he is not ready to sell the club, but that potential buyers include groups from Russia, China and the UK.

Speaking to Sky Sports News last night, Mr Chainrai also repeated his promise that he would make sure ‘not just anybody’ takes over Pompey, and added that whoever it was would have to have the funds needed to start rebuilding the club.

‘I’ve made it very clear on several occasions,’ he said. ‘My serious intention is to find a new buyer who can stabilise it and inject new funds into it to take it back to its glory days.

‘If I get my money back I would consider myself very lucky, the point here is not to actually make money, it is to exit and hand over the reins.’

As reported in The News 35-year-old Russian business magnate Vladimir Antonov has been named in connection with buying the club.

But Mr Chainrai did not confirm the names of potential owners, instead focusing on the recent unrest among Pompey fans who want to see new signings and more transparency at the club.

He said: ‘I feel for the fans, but I know they have not been very happy with me.

‘I will make sure the new owner is fit and proper, and whoever this new group is they will come in with money to invest in the club.’

But responding to suggestions that he was desperate to sell the club soon, Mr Chainrai said: ‘Maybe I am falling in love with Portsmouth again, maybe I am already in love.’

The frustration of fans was echoed in the words of manager Steve Cotterill, who said his relationship with the new owners had not got off to a smooth start.

He said: ‘When I met with them in August it was probably one of the worst meetings of my whole life, if you can even call it a meeting.

‘I don’t see them enough on a regular basis, but now they are starting to trust me, to trust my opinion, and my honesty.’

The manager added that in his view it was only on-loan players from clubs like Manchester United which have kept Pompey from facing certain relegation.