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Monday, January 2, 2006
Pompey silent over takeover talk

Portsmouth have refused to deny reports of an imminent takeover of the club by the son of a Russian billionaire.

A spokeswoman for the club would not comment on reports that Alexander Gaydamak, the son of financier Arcadi Gaydamak, was prepared to buy the club from chairman Milan Mandaric.

According to the reports, 100million will be made available for new players, affording Pompey a financial clout second only in the Barclays Premiership to Chelsea, who are owned by oil billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Little is known about 30-year-old Gaydamak junior, but his father has a marginally higher profile.

Arcadi has lived permanently in Moscow since 2002, is involved in various industrial enterprises in Russia and owns a medium-sized bank and brokerage company.

Gaydamak senior is the president Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organisations of Russia and a donor to various charities.

However, Paris magistrates issued an arrest warrant for him in 2000, who wanted him for questioning over an alleged arms-for-oil deal with Angola in the early 1990s. Gaydamak insisted his involvement in the deal was as part of a legitimate agreement between the governments of Russia and Angola. Jean-Christophe Mitterand, the son of former French president Francois Mitterand, was given a 30-month suspended sentence for his involvement in the affair.

Gaydamak senior owns Israeli top-flight side Beitar Jerusalem, recently appointing former France midfielder Luis Fernandez as coach.

Gaydamak senior has already shown his willingness to invest in his Israeli club, having overseen the arrival of 31-year-old midfielder Jerome Leroy at Beitar from French side Lens, beating off competition for the player from Marseille. He has also agreed to fund an upgrade to the club's training facilities.

A spokesman for Beitar confirmed that results had significantly improved since Gaydamak bought the club.

A spokesman for Gaydamak senior insisted he had no knowledge of whether Alexander was poised to invest in Portsmouth, and could only say that he is a businessman based in London.

He added that the elder Gaydamak, who bought Beitar in September last year, was 'crazy about football'.

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