Chainrai's reign at Pompey is over

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 April, 2011, 12:00am


Balram Chainrai's eventful tenure as owner of Portsmouth is over.

The Hong Kong businessman has struck a deal with Russian consortium Convers Sport Initiatives (CSI) and they will be the new owners of the Championship club as soon as next week. It is now down to the Football League to ratify the deal. Once this takes place Chainrai will be out of the equation.

In the past few weeks, the club's management and Convers have been performing due diligence to make sure there will be no surprises in terms of the club's finances or those of the new owners.

A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that a deal had been done.

'It's signed, sealed and delivered. We are just waiting for approval from the Football League and that's it. Then it will be announced to the public,' the insider said. 'There'll be an official announcement in the next day or two. It'll be down to how fast the Football League are at rubber stamping it.'

Chainrai (pictured) briefly owned the English side before they went into administration 13 months ago. And when the club won their battle against the British tax authorities in August, it left him free to buy back Portsmouth with his Israeli business partner, Levi Kushnir, and save them from liquidation.

Chainrai's company, Portpin, initially took over the 90 per cent shareholding in Portsmouth held by previous owner Ali al-Faraj after the club had allegedly missed deadlines to repay money Chainrai was due after he loaned it GBP17 million (HK$208 million) last year. He will get his money back over a period of time.

The Hong Kong businessman has been in talks with CSI for the past two months. CSI is one of the backers for Ferrari Russia and the Spartak Moscow ice hockey team. It also made a failed bid to buy English League One side Bournemouth last year.

Chainrai repeatedly said he had never wanted to take over the club for the long term and was optimistic that a deal could be done with CSI.

The 51-year-old, who was born in Hong Kong and attended King George V School, runs a successful consumer electronics group in the city and has interests in Britain, including a property investment firm.

Chainrai may have been fighting losing financial battles for months off the pitch, but one win for his side on the field gave him the most pleasure when Pompey won the first 'Hong Kong' derby last season by beating the Carson Yeung Ka-sing-owned Birmingham City 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Yeung is also a Hong Kong businessman. Pompey went on to the final where they were eventually beaten 1-0 by Chelsea.

When Chainrai watched his son, Karan, walk out on the Wembley turf as Portsmouth's mascot in the FA Cup final it capped a tumultuous and astonishing period in the Hong Kong businessman's life.

However, Chainrai's tenure has been slammed by Pompey fans who were angry that he and Kushnir failed to invest in the club. This led to a number of organised fans' demonstrations over the past few months.

Pompey failed to bring in a single player on a permanent contract during the transfer window in January and sold Nigerian striker John Utaka, bought in 2007 for ? million by former manager Harry Redknapp, to Montpellier for ?30,000. A recent season ticket increase also had fans baying for Chainrai's blood, but he will not be too worried now.

'I was not keen on buying the club, but if no one was going to takeover the club, I was prepared to do it so I could sell it later and recover the majority of my money as quickly as possible,' Chainrai said last year.

'I don't want to liquidate the club. I don't want to be the one who destroys it as the fans who follow Portsmouth are fantastic.'