Furious Peter Storrie blasts former Pompey owner Alexandre Gaydamak in scathing attack
Published 23:38 29/08/09 By By Paul Smith
Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie has launched a scathing attack on his club’s former owner Alexandre Gaydamak.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Mirror Sport, Storrie lifted the lid on the turmoil that has engulfed the Premier League club over the past 12 months and has twice seen them on the brink of going bust.
Storrie points the finger of blame in Gaydamak's direction following an explosive bust-up with the Franco-Russian businessman last week.
Storrie said last night: “What Alexandre did was the ultimate act of betrayal.
“Not to me personally, or the investors, but to the club itself whose long term financial well-being would have been secured if this take-over had gone ahead.
“What I can’t stomach are the lies and the way he strung us along knowing all along he had done a deal to sell the club behind our backs.
“Worse still, he threatened to put the club into administration rather than sell to us. I said: 'You are prepared to put hundreds of people out of work?' He replied: 'Bring it on.'
“The point being he just couldn’t care less any more.”
The background to the row was explosive.
Storrie was poised to gain control of the club last week, fronting a Saudi Arabian consortium led by the cash rich Ali Al Faraj family who were prepared to pump hundreds of millions of pounds into the club.
But Gaydamak refused to do a deal with them under instructions from his father Arkady. It emerged one of the investors ready to buy Pompey was suing Gaydamak senior for almost £30 million.
Gaydamak junior delayed any deal with Storrie. Finally, he revealed he had struck a deal with Arab businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim instead.
Gaydamak was even prepared to part finance Al Fahim’s take-over rather than sell out to Storrie’s consortium.
And at one point he threatened to put the club into administration and cost hundreds of people their jobs at Fratton Park.
Fratton Park director Roberto Avondo substantiated Storrie's claims about the threat of administration.
He said: “Alexandre called me and said he would prefer to send the club into administration than sell to this lot. I can’t deny I was in complete shock considering all that we have been through.”
Things came to ahead last Sunday evening when it emerged one of the investors in the consortium was suing Alexandre’s father Arkady.
The motives behind Gaydamak’s decision to pull the plug on the deal appear to bring into question who actually owned the club in the first place.
“We knew there was an issue on Sunday night with one of the investors but we removed the obstacle immediately by taking that investor out," Storrie explained.
“But obviously Alexandre didn’t believe that was the case. I certainly got the impression he was acting on someone else’s instructions.
“As it was he called me at 7.30pm on Tuesday night to ask for a meeting at 8am the following morning. We expected the deal to be signed off then.
“But he put the meeting back to midday and without so much as an explanation told me he had sold the club to Sulaiman Al Fahim.
“What I said to him in relation to what he had done is not fit to print.
“If I go back three-and-half years and think what I have done for this club on his behalf it makes me sick to my stomach.
“I turned down two or three good job offers and over the last 12 months keeping the club afloat has been a living nightmare.
“When he decided not to put any more money into the club last October we were forced to sell players to stay afloat.
“And it is no coincidence at the time he withdrew his financial backing the South African bankers Standard Bank demanded complete repayment of a £34 million loan.
“They were nothing short of a disgrace and were happy to send the club out of business rather than accept any negotiations on the repayment of the loan.
“Twice we were on the brink of going into administration and let’s be honest a great deal of that was down to Alexandre because he overspent on players and wages to chase a dream and couldn’t sustain it.”
"Ironically Alexandre withdrew funding at the same time the courts froze all his father’s assets and it was later made public in court documents that his father, Arkady, had listed Pompey as one of his businesses.”
Storrie insists that if hadn’t been for key individuals, agents, clubs and Barclays Bank, Pompey would have gone under.
“In contrast to Standard Bank, who had a hold on all our finances, Barclays did everything they could to help us over the repayment of a £9.5 million loan.
“Clubs extended terms so we could repay debts to them over a longer period of time and I have to say the agents representing players bent over backwards to help us.
“If that hadn’t been the case we were doomed. But I sit here now wondering what the future holds for us all."
Gaydamak was unavailable for comment.