Pompey takeover confirmed

Tycoon Vladimir Antonov
Tycoon Vladimir Antonov
The Bahn Thai in Fareham will soon become a Brazilian steakhouse and susha buffet restaurant Picture by Ian Hargreaves

Samba and sushi mix at new town restaurant

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The long-awaited takeover of Pompey by Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov was confirmed today.

Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI) said it had completed the purchase of the club from Balram Chainrai’s Sports Holdings (Asia) Ltd.

It follows months of negotiations between the club and CSI’s owners Vladimir Antonov, Roman Dubov and Chris Akers, who have all passed The Football League’s fit and proper persons test.

Antonov, a Russian banker and investor, founded London-based CSI with Dubov and Akers, a former chief executive at Leeds United.

Pompey chief executive David Lampitt said: ‘I am pleased to welcome the club’s new owners and very much look forward to working with them.

‘It has been a complex process, which has been conducted very professionally throughout. I’m very pleased that it is now complete and we can start to put plans in place for the future.

‘The rebuilding of the club is a long term-project and, in CSI, I believe we have found owners who will take the long-term view that is required.’

Mr Dubov and his business partner Antonov first hit the headlines for attempting to buy AFC Bournemouth last year.

But their interest in Pompey was first revealed by The News in February when Mr Dubov listed Pompey as his favourite team on Facebook.

Speaking about the Pompey deal, Mr Antonov said: ‘We have conducted extensive due diligence and held detailed negotiations with a number of clubs in the English Premier League, Championship, League One and Scottish Premier League over the past 12 months.

‘We ultimately selected Portsmouth Football Club because of its history, loyal fan base and its potential to return to the Premier League.

‘The supporters are amongst the most passionate in the game and that gives the business a strong foundation to build on.’

Mr Antonov, 35, Mr Dubov, 36, and Mr Akers, 46, manage the commercial development of a growing portfolio of sports teams, franchises and rights through CSI, including the Russian Ferrari race team.

Pompey fans today welcomed the takeover of the club, which The News revealed yesterday was close to being tied up.

But they urged the new owners to meet with supports as soon as possible to discuss their future plans.

In a statement, The Pompey Supporters’ Trust said: ‘We are pleased by the news that Portsmouth Football Club has been bought by Convers Sports Initiatives Inc and would like to welcome them to the City of Portsmouth and the great Football Club they have become the new owners of.

‘Without doubt they have bought a special club, our recent history has been filled with joy and pain but the best supporters in the country have always remained loyal to PFC and always will. PFC has the potential to be the south coast’s best club and with care and investment could easily grow into a national force.

‘The Trust firmly believe that a football club’s supporters define it and the area it represents and PFC is rich in that respect, even though it has been mired in debt through the mismanagement of previous owners and executives.

‘We respectfully urge the new owners to meet with the Trust and address fans as soon as they can to discuss their plans and how we, the supporters, can help.

‘We are hopeful they have the means to rectify the player crisis at the club in the next few weeks and make the necessary signings to reward all those fans who made the very tough decision to buy season tickets in April, with a side capable of competing well in the Championship next season.’

Colin Farmery, editor of truebluearmy.com, said: ‘It has been a protracted process, but I think all fans will be relieved that things have finally come to a conclusion.

‘Now we can get on with the real work of rebuilding the club.

‘What a lot of people were unhappy about in the past was the lack of transparency in the way the club was run, and the lack of communication from its owners.

‘The new owners have already shown themselves willing to use social media sites to keep in touch with fans, which is interesting, but hopefully they will agree to a proper meeting sooner rather than later.

‘The first prority now should be sorting out the stadium, and as we only have a nine-man squad at the moment, it would also be nice to have a few more players.’