by Michael Fern
Alexandre Gaydamak, the current owner of Portsmouth, has been looking to sell the club since October, when he admitted that he would consider any “serious” offers. There was concern that no buyer would be willing to take on the club’s debt, reported to be over £30 million, but South African gold-mining executive Greg James has led a group willing to offer £70 million for the team.
The negotiations have been described as in an “advanced” stage by the Independent, with the consortium preparing to examine Portsmouth’s accounts. One source said: “They are now talking and negotiations are going well”, and a deal is expected within a fortnight.
High-profile Israeli agent Pini Zahavi, who was previously thought to be planning a bid of his own, has been revealed as an advisor to the South Africans. His role in the buyout could lead to his client, former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, taking a job at the club as either director of football or manager.
The buyout would come during a period of increasing foreign investment in the Premiership. Manchester City’s recent high-profile takeover by an Abu-Dhabi based investor is the most recent, and has led to rumours that fellow United Arab Emirate country Dubai had an interest in West Ham United.
In previous recent seasons, Aston Villa has been bought out by American millionaire Randy Lerner, and Liverpool by George Gillette and Tom Hicks, while many Manchester United supporters were outraged at Malcolm Glazer taking over their team.
With Chelsea, Aston Villa and Fulham also under foreign control, the takeover of Portsmouth is the latest in a growing trend in English football.