Peter Storrie exclusive: How I sealed Portsmouth takeover deal with Sulaiman Al Fahim
Published 00:00 31/05/09 By By Paul Smith
Peter Storrie has been hailed a hero by Portsmouth fans just months after they were calling for his head.
The executive chairman bore the brunt of fans' criticism as Pompey was put up for sale and rumours were rife that the club was facing financial ruin.
But in the early hours of last Wednesday morning, in the penthouse suite of the InterContinental hotel in Rome, Storrie and 53-year-old former teacher Pairoj Piempongsant masterminded a deal that is set to revolutionise the Premier League club.
Billionaire property tycoon Sulaiman Al Fahim signed a memorandum of understanding, and the deal to buy control of the club is set to be sealed in the next seven days.
Now, in an exclusive interview with Sunday Mirror Sport, Storrie lifts the lid on the deal that stunned football and his desperate battle to keep the club afloat.
Storrie said: "The club was put up for sale in November 2008 as the global recession im-pacteon everyone.
"Owner Alexandre Gaydamak could no longer fund the club and a company was approached to find a buyer.
"The problem we faced was paying out £12million of existing transfer fees in January and with little or no interest in the club we had to sell two players - Lassana Diarra and Jermain Defoe.
"Naturally it was a difficult period which was not helped by ludicrous uninformed reports that the club were in complete financial meltdown.
"It wasn't. The owner secured all the debts and therefore if we didn't meet our financial obligations he would be personally responsible.
"We were faced with the same dilemma come August when a further £12m had to be paid out. Obviously I bore the brunt of the supporters' frustrations.
"But as the chairman I had to implement a structure to keep the club going while we found a buyer.
"And when people don't really know what is going on they assume they do. I had to develop a thick skin, what choice did I have? "My family and friends got more upset about things said and written about me.
"Of course it wasn't helped by an on-going police enquiry which had nothing to do with corruption or bungs, but was ostensibly a tax issue."
With no legitimate buyer in sight, Gaydamak decided to ask Storrie to find one.
Storrie said: "In February I went to Dubai with my wife Frances. I'd arranged a few meetings with sponsors, but on my arrival Pairoj Piempongsant rang me regarding a meeting with Sulaiman Al Fahim.
"Piempongstant was a major fixer. He had masterminded the sale of Manchester City twice and brokered the deal that took Robinho to the club.
"The initial meeting went well, but while there seemed to be an interest they were not prepared to commit themselves to a buy-out.
"Naturally it wasn't helped by the club's plight as we fought to stave off relegation.
"But then last Sunday I got a call from Piempongstant who asked me to travel to Rome on Tuesday to meet Sulaiman Al Fahim.
His knowledge of the club was incredible. He had certainly done his homework.
"I cannot even begin to explain the relief I felt when we finally concluded a deal at 1am on Wednesday morning.
"The deal is subject to a period of due diligence, but I'm confident it'll go through smoothly and no unexpected complications will arise."