With growing uncertainty surrounding the future of Portsmouth, Tal Ben Haim says that he expects to leave England and play abroad next season.
Ben Haim’s declaration follows an exchange of words with Portsmouth administrator Trevor Birch, who is responsible for reducing the club’s wage bill to stop the club from going into liquidation. Birch this week announced that Portsmouth will go out of business on August 10 unless players agree to transfers or salary cuts.
Ben Haim, 30, is believed to be the top-earner of the seven players Portsmouth cannot afford to keep paying. The Israeli defender signed a four-year contract in 2009, when the club were in the Premier League. He is now reluctant to give up his £36,000 weekly wage.
In a recent interview, Birch said: “Ben Haim represents everything that has gone wrong at Portsmouth, the excessive wages that were given four or five months before they went into administration the first time.
“There were no relegation clauses in his contract, and here we are in League One trying to negotiate a way out of it. The player and his agent haven’t caused the problem but they are not helping.”
But Ben Haim responded, asking why Birch’s firm PKF is not prepared to write off the £650,000 it is owed by Portsmouth. “The administrator has to cut his fees,” Ben Haim said. “I have lost £2.5m net and I am prepared to lose more. I signed a contract in good faith and I want to help the club survive, but the administrator has to talk to us. Everyone wants to save the club and my interests are the same.”
Asked where he will be playing next season, Ben Haim said: “I believe I could still play in the Premier League, but I see myself leaving England, for where I don’t know at this stage. If I get an offer from abroad I’d be happy to accept a new challenge. It’s up to my agent, Pini Zahavi.”
Ben Haim refused to comment on rumours he could move to China, but said he rejected an offer to rejoin Maccabi Tel Aviv. “I don’t rule out going back to Maccabi,” he said. “Let them come back with a better offer.”
Meanwhile, Israeli striker Ben Sahar has joined Hertha Berlin on a three-year deal, while Nir Biton has travelled China with Manchester City and could take part in a friendly against Arsenal in the next few days. The Israeli recently played two matches during City's training camp in Austria.