Is ‘Sinatra’ eyeing a new football club?


Even though we don’t know exactly where ousted PM Thaksin Shinawat ra is based, he is still managing to attract a lot of attention.

While the Thai government has been desperately looking for the man so he can serve his two-year jail sentence, Thaksin was recently caught in the spotlight of the British media over an alleged football club takeover.

Thaksin, who sold Manchester City to the Abu Dhabi United Group for ฃ210 million (Bt11.5 billion) last year, was linked to the Portsmouth football club deal offered by Dubai-based billionaire Sulaiman al-Fahim.

Al-Fahim, a property magnate, was the frontman for the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Mansour in the Manchester City sale. This time, however, al-Fahim himself bid for Portsmouth.

Though he said he has the money to acquire the club with investment being raised through Falcon Equity, a network of Asian and Mid-East investors, questions are still being asked about the takeover’s funding.

“Who is buying Portsmouth?” was a headline in Britain’s The Sun tabloid, which noted a “mystery finance company” known as Falcon Equity had been created to seek other “heavyweight investors” for the deal.

The bidding, so far, is doubtful leading to speculation that Thaksin might be one of al-Fahim’s financiers. Pairoj Piempongsant was the man who pointed Portsmouth club to al-Fahim. Pairoj, as a senior adviser to Thaksin, also oversaw the Manchester City dealings.

However, al-Fahim has denied that the former Manchester City club’s owner was part of the consortium planning to buy Portsmouth.

There may be some grounds to this denial because Thaksin cannot be considered a “fit and proper” person to own an English football club because he was convicted for corruption last October. If the man, dubbed “Sinatra” by fans of the Sky Blues, is really eyeing another football club he will have to use a nominee – his usual tactic when it comes to business.

This time, however, it may be difficult to do even that. Under the new rules governing the ownership of football clubs, the Premier League will demand to know the identity of all investors and make it available to the public.

After all, league’s chief executive Richard Scudamore has said: “We should know and the public should know and the fans should know who owns their club.”

Obviously, al-Fahim’s bid for Portsmouth will be the first to fall under the policy.

Published on June 9, 2009


Premier League in dark over Portsmouth takeover

06.06.09 |


Mystery surrounds the prospective takeover of Portsmouth.

The Sun says Premier League chiefs still do not know full details of the bid by Sulaiman Al-Fahim.

It has yet to be rubber- stamped – even though he was paraded around Fratton Park yesterday.

A Premier League spokesman said: “We have received no details of this takeover and have absolutely no idea at this stage who is involved.”

Al-Fahim was introduced to Portsmouth by Pairoj Piempongsant, who brokered disgraced former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s takeover of Manchester City.

Mystery finance company Falcon Equity, based in Dubai and St Albans, have also brought together heavyweight investors to help back the deal.

Al-Fahim recently confirmed: “The money has been raised through the network of Falcon Equity from Asian and Middle Eastern investors.”

Under strict new rules governing the ownership of football clubs, the Premier League will demand to know the identities of these investors.



Shinawatra is not involved in Pompey takeover insists Al Fahim

Property magnate Sulaiman Al Fahim, front man for the proposed Portsmouth takeover, has denied that former Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra is part of the consortium trying to buy the club.

Such a move would be blocked by the Premier League because of Shinawatra’s conviction last October for corruption in his homeland.

But a spokesman for Al Fahim (pictured left), Ivo Ilic Gabara, said: ‘Any rumour that there is any participation by the former Thai Prime Minister is completely unfounded.’


Premier League to investigate Portsmouth’s new investors


The Premier League is preparing to use Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s takeover of Portsmouth as a test case for its strengthened fit-and-proper-persons rule that is due for introduction next week. Al-Fahim, a charismatic Dubai property investor, announced on Wednesday his intention to bid for the Fratton Park club using his “Al Fahim Asia Associates” instrument, which he described yesterday as being “structured like a closed-end private equity fund”.

A source with knowledge of the deal said Al-Fahim is the owner of the fund but that it had numerous investors who had pledged their money on condition of anonymity. However that will not wash with the league, whose chief executive, Richard Scudamore, has said: “We should know and the public should know and the fans should know who owns their club.”

The new rules, which will not only demand that shareholders’ details are lodged with the league but that they are also made available to the public, are expected to be introduced by Gloucester Place during its annual general meeting at the end of next week. Al-Fahim’s move for Portsmouth will be the first to fall under the policy. “We will work to discover who are the ultimate beneficial owners of the club,” said a spokesman for the league.

Al-Fahim said: “The money for the Portsmouth FC acquisition and the needed future investment has been raised through the network of Falcon Equity from Asian and Middle Eastern investors.”


Along with Pini Zahavi, the football broker, Pairoj Piempongsant assisted in finalising the deal for Portsmouth on Tuesday. Piempongsant is a senior advisor to the former prime minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra and played an influential role when his countryman sold Manchester City to Sheikh Mansour last summer. This connection may be responsible for speculation in Dubai last night that Shinawatra is among Al-Fahim’s backers. Al-Fahim was not available for comment last night.

What is clearer is that the acting head coach Paul Hart’s potential future as the permanent manager has been put on hold until the due diligence, which will complete the deal, is carried out.

“The club cannot make any further comment on the future structure of the club until this period has been completed,” a statement said. Some reports have linked Sven-Goran Eriksson as Al-Fahim’s choice as manager, but it is understood that there has been no contact with the former England and Manchester City head coach.

Due diligence will commence next week amid mixed messages over how long it will last. The club believes it will take one to two weeks but a spokesman for Al-Fahim indicated it would not be completed until July. Even in the best-case scenario it will take Portsmouth past the opening of the transfer window on 1 June, casting doubt over their ability to make a slick start to any transfer business.

“Everything I have seen makes me sure that we can build a great football club in the years to come,” Al-Fahim said. “Portsmouth has incredible history and its fans are some of the most loyal in the world of football. I look forward not just to working with them but listening to their views on how they want to take the club forward. I am the investor but this is their club and their community and it is a privilege to be taking charge.”


RELATED POSTS , 11 Feb ’09 –Manchester City withdraw Thaksin Shinawatra’s honorary presidency

Manchester City’s former owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, is no longer the club’s honorary president after the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) he sold up to concluded that his conviction for corruption and wanted status in his home country of Thailand is an embarrassment they will no longer tolerate

Shinawatra is icurrently in exile from Thailand where he has been sentenced to two years in prison. He has also had repated allegations of human rights abuses levelled at him in relation to his time as Prime Minister of the south east Asian country

City’s current owner, Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak held talks to resolve the issue and have moved to act decisively to make Shinawatra the first high profile casualty of their stewardship.

Shinawatra, who was handed the position on selling the club last September, has lived an itinerant existence of late, spending time in the Middle East, the Bahamas and China, where he is currently believed to be setting up home. His UK visa was cancelled in November.

Though his precise whereabouts is unknown, a report in the Guardian newspaper suggests that City’s executive chairman Garry Cook has managed to relay his bosses decision to Shinawatra already.

The former owner’s name no longer features in the match day programme, on the club’s website or anywhere around the City of Manchester Stadium.

Manchester City’s accounts reveal the cost of Thaksin’s ownership

The mess Thaksin left behind at Manchester CityThaksin obviously dumped City like a hot potato when his political mistakes at home finally caught up with him.


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