Manager Avram Grant given vote of confidence by new Portsmouth owner

05 February 2010 08:40
Avram Grant has been told his job is secure by Portsmouth's new owner despite being embroiled in a police investigation into alleged prostitution.

Hong Kong businessman Balram Chainrai became the fourth man in control at Fratton Park in six months yesterday but immediately made it clear he is already on the lookout for owner No 5.

Until then, Grant remains the man charged with securing Portsmouth's Barclays Premier League survival. That decision comes despite Grant being named by a national newspaper as the manager who was photographed leaving a Thai massage parlour, suspected by police of being a brothel, last December.

Touchline duty: Portsmouth manager Avram Grant(right) dishes out instructions to Hassan Yebda during Pompey's 1-0defeat at Fulham on Wednesday

As part of their investigation into the massage parlour close toPortsmouth's training ground, Grant could be questioned by vice squadofficers as a witness if their inquiry results in anyone being chargedwith living off immoral earnings.

Grant, 54, is alleged to have admitted to reporters at the time that he knew the massage parlour, which has since shut down, was operating as a brothel but his TV presenter wife Tzofit has insisted her husband had not paid for sex.

The 45-year-old told Israeli sports newspaper '1One': 'Avram is a private man and can do whatever he wants. Avram went in public, in the middle of the day, to have a Thai massage, not to a brothel.

'He went to have a massage in the official uniform of Ports-mouth. He came out happy and smiling and does not have anything to hide. I do not understand why people think they can invade our private lives.

Enlarge Avram Grant, pictured with wife Tzofit in 2004, may be questioned by police after he was photographed leaving a 'massage parlour'

'We are very famous people but we can do what we want in our free time.'

'Avram can do whatever he wants and the only anger I have is that he does not go to have a Thai massage every day. If Avram wanted to go to a brothel, it is his right. He can do whatever he likes with his body.'

Grant is understood to have already built up a good rapport with Chainrai prior to him assuming control. Chainrai's company Portpin, which he owns with business associate Levi Kushnir, has seized a 90 per cent stake in Portsmouth held by Ali Al Faraj's investment vehicle Falcondrone Ltd, after exercising a clause in their agreement over a £17million loan made to the Saudi.

The move comes after Ports-mouth continually defaulted on loan repayments and amid fears the club was heading for administration due to a winding-up order brought by HM Revenue & Customs over an unpaid £7.5m VAT bill. That eventuality would have meant Chainrai would only have received a fraction of the money he lent to the club.

He is now seeking to have Wednesday's High Court hearing adjourned while he attempts to 'stabilise' the club. If that request is not agreed to, he is likely to have to make up a shortfall of around £3.5m to pay the VAT bill, the rest coming from the sale of Younes Kaboul to Tottenham and Asmir Begovic to Stoke.

The massage parlour not far from Portsmouth's training ground which Grant was spotted leaving

The parlour was fitted with a large multi-person whirlpool bath and wooden sauna

Father-of-two Grant's name has had over 10,000 mentions on internet websites in connection with the vice den.

Chief executive Peter Storrie, who complained recently about his role in the club being undermined, will remain in his post.

Chainrai, 51, has made it clear he has no intention of remaining at the club in the long term and a new owner is already being sought. That could prove easier said than done given Portsmouth's league position and debts in the region of £60m.

In addition, the change of ownership has yet to be signed off by the Premier League as they have not received official notification of the power shift and Chainrai has not yet taken their 'fit and proper persons' test.

However, sources at the Premier League do not expect Chainrai, who made his millions in consumer electronics, telecommunications and property, to fall foul of their much-criticised club ownership rules.

Newowner, same problems: Investor Balram Chainrai (below, second fromright) is seen in the standsduring Portsmouth's match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 16thDecember, 2009 but Pompey lost 1-0 at Fulham last night (above)

Ironically, Chainrai and Kushnir were part of the consortium thatincluded Ali Al Faraj which was brought to the table by Storrie to tryto buy the club off Alexandre Gaydamak last August.

It is believed Gaydamak opted instead to sell to Sulaiman Al Fahim because he did not want to deal with Chainrai and Kushnir as they were suing his father, Arcadi, over a business deal that went sour.

 Why shouldn't Avram go for a Thai massage, says wife who is standing by shamed soccer boss. from her home in Tel AvivAvram Grant's wife defends her Pompey boss husband over brothel visit, saying: 'He can do whatever he likes with his body'Pompey confirm FOURTH owner this season as Chainrai seizes controlPORTSMOUTH FC

Source: Daily_Mail