Ex-Portsmouth owner jailed after stealing £5m from wife to buy the club

Sulaiman Al Fahim has been jailed for five years after being found guilty of stealing £5m from his wife to fund the purchase of Portsmouth in 2009.

Al Fahim, 42, who was Portsmouth’s owner for just six weeks, was found guilty of forgery, using forged documents and aiding and abetting.

After his troubled tenure at the club, he sold them to Ali Al Faraj. He and an accomplice were found guilty to have stolen the money from Al Fahim’s wife, Sacha Gaydamak. Al Fahim did not attend the hearing and was sentenced to five years in prison in his absence.

Prosecutors said that Al Fahim’s wife discovered the money was missing when the expected returns from high interest rates did not come into her account. After the bank’s accounts manager “kept stalling”, Gaydamak visited the bank in person to discover that there was no money in her account.

She reported the matter to the police and the bank manager has also been sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of theft, forgery of official documents and use of forged official documents.

In an interview with Radio Solent after taking over the club in 2009, Al Fahim said that:

“To be realistic we need a new ground and we want to strengthen the squad and the academy. Hopefully we can have a new stadium in place by 2015 or 16. We would like to be a top-eight club by that time.”

Since Al Fahim’s ownership, Portsmouth have had a troubled time to say the very least. In their final few months in the Premier League, they struggled to pay staff and players.

They also came close to bankruptcy on multiple occasions, have been in administration twice, have had seven different owners and have suffered three relegations from top of the football league pyramid to the bottom in just four years.

The club started to get back on its feet when they were taken over in 2013 by the Pompey Supports Trust. In August 2017, they sold the 2008 FA Cup winners to the former Disney Chief Executive, Michael Eisner.

The more structured and stable set up behind the scenes has started to reap rewards on the pitch as well. Last year the club won the League 2 title on the final day of the season to return to League 1. Portsmouth have also enjoyed a positive return to League 1 so far. They find themselves in 9th place in the table and are just four points off of the coveted play-off places.

Feature image credit: Ben Hardinge



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