Thursday, February 4, 2010

The team that wasn't there

(Editor's note: Colin and I really are trying to rediscover our Match Pricks efforts. We're not happy about the lack of posts, and we hope to keep consistent with our attempts to throw new thoughts out here. Here is the entirety of an e-mail I sent Colin earlier today. One of the things we've found is that our e-mails to each other or Saturday morning conversations between matches essentially capture all the fun and spirit of what we've always wanted to do with Match Pricks. Rather than recognize that and fail to change our habits, here's an attempt to translate those exchanges into our wider forum. My thoughts below represent the entirety of an e-mail I sent Colin this morning after I read the latest Portsmouth story at the Guardian.)

Not sure how closely you're following this Portsmouth thing. I just read the full story of the latest development. Remember I mentioned last week how the owner of the team possibly has never been photographed? They legitimately couldn't find a picture of the guy, even after a few months of him owning the team. Anyway, that guy, something-something Faraj, no longer owns the team. This Hong Kong guy who basically financed Faraj's takeover called in his markers, and now Hong Kong guy owns the team. But the story has all these wacko details about this Faraj guy. I'm starting to think Faraj has never existed. It's a real-life Carlos the Jackal thing. The guy is a Saudi Arabian businessman who borrowed £17 million from this Hong Kong guy so he could take over Portsmouth. The Hong Kong guy never met Faraj, never saw him face to face, and despite Faraj owing £17 million to Hong Kong guy, Faraj never agreed to meet and discuss paying back that money. So Hong Kong guy just took over the team in a kind of, "Well, our contract says I get the team if he doesn't make payments, and he's not even trying to make payments, so ..."

But this Faraj, I mean, dios mio! He NEVER visited Portsmouth at any point from being interested in the team, taking it over and actually being the owner. Not once. His lawyer, who is friggin' speaking for him in the papers about all this – HAS NEVER MET HIM! The guy's personal lawyer has never met him!

It's just astonishing. They've had four owners in less than a year, the team's official website went down because the IT hosting company didn't get paid, the players and employees get their salaries days and weeks after they're supposed to. And the killer is there's just this trail of debt that gets added on. One of the previous owners is owed £28 million – by the club. Somehow, this guy who couldn't afford to run Portsmouth and had to sell the team is owed £28 million by the team.

And then, the icing on the cake, they beat Liverpool 2-0 in December. It's like losing to a team that doesn't even exist.

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