Richards: Thaksin would scupper Pompey deal

Premier League chairman Dave Richards has warned the impending takeover of Portsmouth will fail if former Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra is involved.

Premier League chairman Dave Richards has warned the impending takeover of Portsmouth will fail if former Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra is involved.

Richards also dismissed suggestions he has had direct involvement in the deal which will see property billionaire Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim take over at Fratton Park.

The Middle Eastern businessman is close to buying the club from current owner Sacha Gaydamak with due diligence set to be completed next month.

Portsmouth have denied newspaper claims that former Thai prime minister Thaksin and Premier League supremo Richards have had a role to play in the deal.

Richards told BBC Radio Five Live: “At this stage the Premier League don’t know if he is involved.

“The Premier League have met the advisors to Dr Sulaiman this week and we have made it very clear that we want to know who are the shareholders in the possible takeover of Portsmouth.

“Before it can be taken over the people who are involved have to meet the fit and proper persons test.

“There has been a suggestion that possibly Dr Thaksin is involved. If that is the case that takeover will not be allowed to go ahead.”

Thaksin, who was ousted as Thailand’s prime minister in 2006, had his British visa revoked last November after being convicted of corruption in his homeland.

He was sentenced to two years in jail and the Thai authorities have since been attempting to extradite him, recently tracking him down to Germany where he has been forced to give up his residence permit.

Asked if he himself had direct involvement in the takeover, Richards added: “Absolutely none at all.

“I did meet Dr Sulaiman in Rome. He phoned me up and asked me if I would meet him. He wanted to make it plain to me that he was trying to buy Portsmouth and I did meet him in Rome.”

Richards distanced himself from Shinawatra and his advisor Pairoj Piempongsat, claiming it was stretching the truth to call them his friends.

“I knew the doctor before he became chairman of Manchester City,” he said. “The Premier League did a tournament in Asia, and I met him.

“While he was chairman he did come and see me and I talked to him like I talked to all the chairmen.

“When you talk about friendship it’s chairman to chairman, that’s all.”

He added: “When he (Piempongsat) was at City he was one of the directors that came along and asked about transfers and you do get to know people. But that’s as far as it’s gone.”

But Richards admitted he was the one who introduced Gaydamak and Shinawatra.

He said: “I did originally introduce Sacha Gaydamak to Dr Thaksin at a game at Manchester City when I was there. I may have introduced Pairoj – I couldn’t tell you that for certain – but I definitely introduced Dr Thaksin to Mr Gaydamak.”

Portsmouth released a statement this morning which read: “Portsmouth FC would like to confirm that neither Dr Thaksin Shinawatra nor his advisor Pairoj Piempongsat are involved in funding Dr Sulaiman al Fahim’s bid to buy the club.

“A representative for Dr Sulaiman al Fahim met with Premier League officials last week and confirmed that he is the sole purchaser of the football club and this will be verified by his lawyers.

“Pompey executive chairman Peter Storrie met Pairoj Piempongsat during his time at Manchester City some two years ago. Pairoj subsequently introduced Mr Storrie to Dr Sulaiman al Fahim and that is the extent of his involvement in the proposed takeover.”

As for suggestions Richards has a role in the sale, Pompey stated: “Dave Richards has had no role to play in the proposed takeover, other than providing advice in his role as chairman of the Premier League and to suggest otherwise undermines the excellent work he does in his position.”

The statement concluded: “The due diligence process for the purchase of the club is continuing well and should be completed by early July.”

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