A boardroom power struggle has put the appointment of Avram Grant as the new manager of Portsmouth in doubt.
The JC understands that club owner Alexandre Gaydamak would like to replace Tony Adams with the former Chelsea manager but is fearful that such a move would be unpopular with the fans.
However, executive chairman Peter Storrie, who in October persuaded Gaydamak to promote assistant-manager Adams rather than bring in Grant when Harry Redknapp moved to Spurs, has backed the former Arsenal captain, even though he has won just two of 15 Premier League games since taking charge.
For his part, Grant has distanced himself from any imminent move to Fratton Park. “I’m not conducting any negotiations with the club,” he said. “It’s all groundless media speculation.” But significantly, Grant stopped short of denying interest in managing Portsmouth, as he did when interviewed by the JC in November.
Storrie’s antagonism towards Grant stretches back to 2006 when Gaydamak acquired Portsmouth for £40 million and appointed the former Israel national team manager as Technical Director. In effect, Grant was the owner’s representative on the South Coast as Gaydamak, who lives in Israel, was absent much of the time tending his international business affairs.
Storrie, who had previously been managing director at West Ham with Redknapp worked with him to ensure that Grant was marginalised, and the Israeli moved on to Stamford Bridge in 2007.
In contrast to his father, Arkady, who has fired six managers at Betar Jerusalem since buying the team in 2005, Gaydamak Jnr, 32, has kept a low profile since purchasing Portsmouth. The hands-off approach worked well when Redknapp was in charge and Pompey had their most successful period in 60 years. But since Redknapp’s defection to Spurs, the FA Cup holders have sunk fast from challenging for a Uefa Cup place to the relegation zone and were dumped out of the cup by Swansea.
Storrie has filled the power vacuum left by Redknapp’s departure and has taken advantage of Gaydamak’s declared intention to sell the club to consolidate his position as the man who has Pompey’s best interests at heart.
He denied rumours of Grant’s imminent appointment, and added: “We are all in this together. From the board through to the coaching staff. The reality is that the owner, Alexandre Gaydamak, has decided to sell the club.”
Storrie has made it clear to Adams that results must improve during February. If Adams does not deliver, it is unclear whether Gaydamak will assert his authority and appoint Grant, or Storrie will prefer to find a new manager who is not close to the club’s owner.