It appears that a new saviour is ready to lead Portsmouth to financial salvation, with the Intermarket Group apparently willing to take over the club and it’s £70m plus debt.
The Intermarket group is a Canary Wharf-based financial analysis company, and so, should the group takeover at Pompey, fans will find transport links to the group’s offices very convenient when they wish to stage their next protest. Canary Wharf is accessible on both the DLR and Jubilee line.
It is easy to be cynical with regard to prospective new owners in football these days, with the words ‘Arab based consortium’ often met months later with ‘administration’ or ‘winding-up order’. With regard to the Intermarket Group, which has already tried and failed to take over both West Ham and Notts County, it’s probably best that Portsmouth fans remain sceptical.
In October 2009, it became apparent that West Ham’s Icelandic owner Straumer needed to sell the club. Jim Bowe, a former New York City trader on Wall Street, and then Chief Executive of Intermarket, was very vocal about the group’s intention to make a £100m bid for the club. At the time, the Guardian suggested that this was simply a publicity stunt to gain notoriety for the company. In October Intermarket was only 18 months old, and it’s principle shareholders, David Bryne and Iain Mortley, had set the company up with just £1000 each in share capital. A bid of £100m for a football club would have been priceless PR for the group. However, Straumer suggested the group’s efforts to sign the club would come to nothing, and as it turned out, proof of funds were never forthcoming.
In early February this year, after losing out on the Hammers to Sullivan and Gold, Intermarket were attempting to sign a second English club. Before Ray Trew bought Notts County, it was believed that the Intermarket Group were ready to bid for the club, clearing it’s £4m debt and £600,000 tax bill. Further Intermarket were said to be willing to invest round £25m in the club, building a new stadium and a casino in the process. However, the money never materialised, and Sven-Goran Eriksson left the club after the multi-million failed, and Ray Trew stepped in.
Intermarket Chairman David Bryne explained to the Guardian why the deals never came off:
“If it was not for our chief executive, Jim Bowe, dying, we would have done the deal with West Ham. And my partner offered a £500,000 non-refundable cheque to [Notts’ then chairman] Peter Trembling to give us a week to do the deal. Sven Goran Eriksson was really keen but unfortunately Peter went and did the deal with Trew.”
David Byrne is now thought to be approaching Portsmouth with a view to take over the club, and hopes to make it third time lucky. Upon questioning however, Byrne stated:
“I can neither confirm it nor deny it.”
Portsmouth administrator Andrew Andronikou however refused to comment on any interest from Intermarket, simply stating to the Guardian that:
“Until I’m shown proof of funds and I’m happy with the calibre of the individuals no one will come into the club.”
Wow. What a novel idea. It’s a shame he wasn’t around the South Coast area last year…