premier league

Jacob hits out at Portsmouth supporter protests

January 11, 2010

Portsmouth's executive director Mark Jacob has called for fans to lay off owner Ali Al Faraj as the club look to get themselves back onto a sound financial footing.

Ahmed al-Faraj
GettyImagesMark Jacob and Ahmed al-Faraj, brother of Portsmouth owner Ali, watches the Arsenal game

Portsmouth are challenging the winding-up petition served on them by HM Revenue and Customs before Christmas, and are to go to court to argue the VAT portion of their massive tax debt is too high by some £7.5 million.

The club are also currently subject to a transfer embargo because of unpaid fees.

Some sections of the Pompey faithful have vented their frustrations directly at the Saudi businessman, who took charge in September but has still to visit Fratton Park in person to watch the club's battle to get off the bottom of the Premier League table.

More protests are planned for the home match against Birmingham at the weekend.

However, the club's executive director urged everyone to get behind Al Faraj, who stepped in to buy the south-coast club from Sulaiman Al Fahim and save them from administration.

"At the Arsenal game, there were chants which left Ahmed Al Faraj (the brother of Ali Al Faraj) - who watched the game on the Internet - most upset,'' Jacob said in the Portsmouth News.

"Mr Al Faraj feels supporters do not see - or haven't been told perhaps - what has happened since October and it was like a pressure cooker that had suddenly exploded. Then there was the protest after the Coventry game.

"Quite clearly that is the supporters' prerogative, but I was most upset and disappointed. I sincerely hope that does not happen again given the strides this club has achieved over the last few months.''

Jacob insists Pompey are making progress towards a more sound financial base.

"I can sympathise with supporters and I can understand their frustrations, but they have to realise the perilous state the club was in October 2009,'' he said. "They have got to appreciate the huge strides we have made since to stabilise the club, to get us into the position now where we have a fighting chance to survive in the Premier League and to move on.

"Quite clearly, had Mr Al Faraj not taken over when he did, the club would have suffered a points reduction because administration would have been on the cards. With a points deduction - given the points we have got at the moment - I defy anyone to believe the club would then have survived.

"Altogether, if you look at the funds that have been generated into the club since October, you are looking at approximately £40million. What we are doing now at the club is something positive and for the long-term future.

"We are very, very positive that we will be out of this predicament very, very shortly.''

Pompey, meanwhile, have issued a public plea for fans to bring "a shovel.. and even wheelbarrow'' to help to get Fratton Park ready for Saturday's visit of Birmingham following the recent wintry weather which caused so many postponements as areas around stadia were treacherous.

An article on the club's official website read: "The Blues have always been at the heart of the local community and we would love to see that spirit in evidence with as many people as possible lending a hand.

"Those adults wishing to join in should meet in the main Fratton Park car park on Wednesday morning at 8.30am. Bring a shovel/spade and even a broom and wheelbarrow if you have them. Walkways, stairs and the pitch edge all need clearing.

"Everyone who turns up to help out will be given two free tickets for the Birmingham game as thanks.

"The thoroughfares around Fratton Park are also covered in snow and ice and we are liaising with Portsmouth City Council in the hope that they will put resources towards that effort.''