Avram Grant has described the continuing crisis at Portsmouth as the most challenging of his life.
The manager this week hit out at the owners over “broken promises” as he battles to save the crisis club from relegation.
Prior to Wednesday’s Premier League match against Fulham, Grant, 54, spoke of his disappointment about the dealings in the transfer window, where key players Younes Kaboul and Asmir Begovic were sold. But the club’s need to sell was not a surprise to the Israeli.
We can reveal that Grant signed his contract with Portsmouth in October in the London home of Israeli lawyer Yoram Yossifoff with businessman Roni Mana, and convicted fraudster Daniel Azougy, who is running financial affairs at Fratton Park, present at the meeting.
Grant said: “When I came to the club I knew the situation was not good on the football side but they told me everything was OK financially. I was told we could bring in four more players in January and all the squad would stay. That is why I came to the club.”
Since then Grant has seen his relegation-threatened team soldier on despite severe financial restrictions. The players have also been frustrated with the payment of wages delayed on several occasions. The club also failed to obtain a bank loan against the stadium and future TV income.
Even so Grant has no immediate plans to resign. “I’m not a quitter,” he said, “and I’m not afraid of problems. Problems are challenges and I like a big challenge.
“We made a lot of progress on the football side. The main issue is Portsmouth Football Club and the fans. This has been the most emotionally and mentally difficult period of my life.”
Sources in Israel say that the former Chelsea manager is angry with CEO Peter Storrie for repeatedly speaking on his behalf. Storrie’s incorrect claim that negotiations to sell Kaboul and Begovic were behind Grant’s back caused the Israeli embarrassment when Spurs boss Harry Redknapp insisted Grant knew the players were being sold.
Portsmouth face a winding-up order on Feb 10 for unpaid taxes but a source in Israel close to Azougy told the JC that the club are confident of paying off much of their £11m tax bill, and negotiating a payment schedule for the balance. But there are other debts, and ultimately even if Grant looks like achieving the Houdini-like feat of keeping Pompey in the Premier League, administration and the deduction of points may thwart him.