Doubts over Portsmouth's Israeli backer

By Simon Griver and James Martin, October 29, 2009
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An Israeli businessman reportedly interested in backing Portsmouth has had three of his businesses placed in receivership.

Levi Kushnir attended Portsmouth’s Premier League match at Hull City last weekend as a guest of Ahmed Al Faraj, brother of Portsmouth’s latest owner Ali Al Faraj, leading to speculation that Kushnir and Hong Kong-based businessman Balram Chainrai were about to loan cash-strapped Portsmouth £15m to help pay off their debts.

However, the 56-year-old Kushnir saw his holdings in Kital Holdings and two other companies that he owns placed in receivership last week after a Tel Aviv District Court agreed to the request of his creditors, Gmul America Investments.

In another twist, Kushnir and Chainrai last month successfully sued Beitar Jerusalem owner Arkadi Gaydamak, father of former Portsmouth owner Alexandre, for £16.5m, and were given the right to seize heavily indebted Beitar as surety.

Property developer Kushnir flatly denied that he is about to loan money to Portsmouth. He said: “I’ve no connection to the club. These are stupid rumours.”

New Portsmouth Director of Football Avram Grant was also at Saturday’s game, sporting a stubble as he mourns the death of his father, Meir Granat.

With Portsmouth manager Paul Hart struggling to lift the side off the foot of the table, it may not be long before Grant assumes the role of team manager, which is the wish of the club’s Saudi Arabian owner Ali Al Faraj.

Israeli super-agent Pini Zahavi, who engineered the club’s latest takeover, after Al-Faraj bought 90 per cent of Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s shares in the club last month, advised him to install Grant as manager then. However, Portsmouth CEO Peter Storrie persuaded Al Faraj to give Hart more time.

    Last updated: 9:54am, October 30 2009