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August 6, 2009

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Portsmouth may be forced to let go more players

PORTSMOUTH'S financial plight became clear on Tuesday when the Premier League club said it may need to sell more players if a proposed takeover falls through.

Sulaiman al-Fahim, who is heading up a group of investors from the United Arab Emirates, confirmed later that he is still committed to buying Portsmouth and strengthening the team.

However, in a statement on its Website the club said "While it is our intention to add strength to the existing squad we cannot rule out the possibility of selling more players should the takeover not happen."

The statement was issued after Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie was quoted in Sun newspaper as saying it had been tough keeping the south-coast club going.

It said no new finance had been available since French-born owner Alexandre Gaydamak decided to sell nine months ago. With the proposed takeover still not completed the club has been left in financial limbo and key players, such as striker Peter Crouch and fullback Glen Johnson, have had to be sold.

"During this transitional phase the priority has been to keep the Football Club operating," said the statement on the club's official Website.

"The need to meet scheduled loan repayments to banks has meant that the club has had to sell players such as (midfielder) Lassana Diarra and (striker) Jermain Defoe in January and more recently Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson."

Portsmouth lost almost 17 million pounds (US$28.80 million) in the 2007/08 financial year despite winning the FA Cup and has had to shelve plans for a new stadium.

The club said until the takeover was finalized they would have to struggle on with a severely limited budget.

"We know only too well that we need to add to the first team squad but at this moment in time there is a limited amount we can do until the takeover is completed," the statement said.

"We can assure everybody that Peter Storrie, the board and everyone at the club is working tirelessly to keep (it) running as smoothly as possible in these difficult circumstances."

Al-Fahim moved quickly to reassure the club's fans.

"Now we are in the final stages of the transaction and I will exercise every effort to complete it as soon as possible in the interests of the club and the supporters," he said.

Portsmouth narrowly avoided relegation last year after manager Harry Redknapp left to take over at Tottenham Hotspur and his successor Tony Adams was subsequently sacked. Paul Hart, who steered the club away from the drop zone in a caretaker role, signed a two-year contract last month.


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