FANS longing for stability have welcomed reports that the crisis at Pompey could hand control back to former owner Balram Chainrai.
The club was plunged into fresh financial uncertainty last week after its co-owner Vladimir Antonov was arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. The Convers Sports Initiatives boss is battling extradition to Lithuania where he stands accused of stripping more than £200m from Snoras Bank, which was nationalised last week after regulators discovered millions of pounds had gone missing.
Now with the Lithuanian prosecutor general’s office seeking to freeze Antonov’s assets, fears have been raised that CSI could default on payments to Chainrai, who may then be entitled to take back control of the club.
But supporters refused to abandon their embattled team and told The News if the Hong Kong-based former owner can stop Pompey from once again facing financial meltdown they would welcome him back to Fratton Park.
Chris Horocks, 68, of South Parade, Southsea, said he would treat Chainrai’s possible return to the club with cautious optimism.
‘He wasn’t that bad and we have had worse,’ he said. ‘If he could put the club back on an even keel that would go some way towards reassuring fans.
‘But whatever happens I will stay loyal. I have over many years and I will never abandon Pompey.’
Neil Whatley, 22, of Battenberg Avenue, North End, said: ‘As long as we are stable I don’t care who owns the club.
‘After everything that happened last time we’ve got a lot to thank Chainrai for. Who knows where we would be without him.’
Sarah Whelan, of Hilsea Crescent, in Hilsea, said after all the dodgy owners Pompey has had, she couldn’t see how it could get much worse.
‘What is this fit and proper persons test all about anyway?’ she said.
‘How can they say the owners are vetted when things like this keep happening?
‘Chainrai might not be perfect but he’s better than some of the disasters who have been in charge.’
Antonov is due back in court on December 16. Pompey and CSI refused to comment.