Ali al-Faraj

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Ali Abdullah Al Faraj
Born 1969
Riyadh
Nationality Saudi Arabia
Known for Ex Portsmouth F.C. owner

Ali al-Faraj is a Saudi businessman, and formerly the majority stakeholder in Portsmouth Football Club.[1]

Portsmouth FC[edit]

Ali al-Faraj was allegedly introduced to Portsmouth via their then CEO Peter Storrie, through Israeli agent Pini Zahavi when the club was on the brink of financial meltdown. Faraj developed a consortium with other investors and Storrie and bid for the club. Former owner Alexandre Gaydamak dismissed the Saudi's bid and instead sold to Dubai businessman Sulaiman Al-Fahim. Just over 40 days later, al-Faraj purchased a 90% stake in Portsmouth on 5 October 2009 through Falcondrone Ltd from Al-Fahim, who had underestimated the capital required to sustain the business, and faced difficulty attracting inward investment[2] while former owner Alexandre Gaydamak faced accusations of having transferred club assets to family companies at reduced fees, adding to the financial difficulties faced.[3][4]

At the start of February 2010, it became public that al-Faraj had financed the purchase of the club by means of a £17 million bridging loan from Balram Chainrai's company Portpin Ltd.[5] Within weeks, al-Faraj 'defaulted' on his payments, causing Chainrai to assume possession Falcondrone, and thus the football club.[6]

Weeks later, Chainrai placed Portsmouth into administration.[7]

In October 2010, after High Court battles to agree a CVA [8] and a late-minute public display of brinkmanship between the club's administrator and former owners,[9] Balram Chainrai purchased the football club from its receivers to bring the club out of administration.[10]

Conspiracy[edit]

It has been asserted by some Portsmouth fans that Al-Faraj is actually a pseudonym for Balram Chainrai. The allegations are that Chainrai used al-Faraj as a buyer for the club following a feud between Chainrai and Arcadi Gaydamak – found in Israeli court to be the de facto owner of Portsmouth FC. Gaydamak admits to using his son Sacha as cover for ownership of the club, allegedly as his convictions for gun running, sanctions busting, and outstanding warrants for his arrest necessitated the deception.[11]

Whilst Chainrai has been vocal in his denial of the assertion,[12] he has not been as forthcoming about his previous dealings with Gaydamak. Chainrai successfully sued Gaydamak for damages around the time Al Faraj purchased Portsmouth Football Club. It is currently unclear whether the damages awarded to Chainrai had been paid. Fans therefore speculate that Chainrai's arrival at Portsmouth was intended to seize the club and liquidate its assets by way of renumeration for the court order, with the Gaydamak family consequently extracting as much value from the club as was possible before the club's account was frozen.

Profile[edit]

With a holding in petrochemical giant SABIC, Faraj also has business interests in Saudi Uniform Manufacture, AKETIPS'S and Easyway Limited, which owns property in both Saudi Arabia and the UK

Personal[edit]

Ali is reported to have seven brothers and two sisters, including Ahmed al-Faraj, who also claims a stake in SABIC.[13] 'He' is also married and has two daughters.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jackson, Jamie (30 March 2010). "Ali al-Faraj had full charge of Portsmouth during tenure, says brother". The Guardian (London). 
  2. ^ King, Daniel (18 July 2009). "Portsmouth in trouble as Al Fahim takeover bid is probed". Daily Mail (London). 
  3. ^ Szczepanik, Nick (15 September 2008). "Arcadi Gaydamak claims leave puzzle at Portsmouth". The Times (London). 
  4. ^ Gaydamak seizes back Pompey car park - East Hampshire - The News
  5. ^ "Portsmouth confirm FOURTH owner this season as Balram Chainrai seizes control at Fratton Park from Ali Al Faraj". Daily Mail (London). 4 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Crisis club Portsmouth have fourth owner of the season". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 4 February 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Callow, James (26 February 2010). "Portsmouth go into administration". The Guardian (London). 
  8. ^ "Portsmouth win High Court battle". BBC News. 5 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "Portsmouth 'likely to close down'". BBC News. 22 October 2010. 
  10. ^ Portsmouth out of administration after reaching a deal with former owner Alexandre Gaydamak - News - MirrorFootball.co.uk
  11. ^ "Arcadi Gaydamak reveals: I'm the real owner of Portsmouth". Daily Mail (London). 15 September 2008. 
  12. ^ Jackson, Jamie (2 April 2010). "Balram Chainrai denies existence of asset-stripping plan at Portsmouth". The Guardian (London). 
  13. ^ Ahmad Al-Faraj LinkedIn.com
  14. ^ Takeover by Ali al-Faraj came in the nick of time for Portsmouth The Guardian, 7 October 2009