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Dubai billionaire seals Portsmouth buyout

  • Story Highlights
  • Dubai-based billionaire Sulaiman Al Fahim completes takeover of Portsmouth
  • Al Fahim becomes chairman, replacing former owner Alexandre Gaydamak
  • He rewards caretaker manager Paul Hart with two-year deal as permanent boss
  • England striker Peter Crouch decides against a move north to Sunderland
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(CNN) -- Middle-Eastern investment is continuing apace in the English Premier League despite the tough economic climate, with Dubai-based Sulaiman Al Fahim completing his long-awaited takeover of Portsmouth.

Sulaiman Al Fahim has continued his interest in English football with a buyout of Portsmouth.

Sulaiman Al Fahim has continued his interest in English football with a buyout of Portsmouth.

Al Fahim, a board member of the Abu Dhabi United Group which bought out Manchester City a year ago, has been named chairman of the cash-strapped club after passing the EPL's "fit and proper" ownership test.

He replaces Alexandre Gaydamak, who became co-owner of the south-coast club in January 2006 and took over full control six months later.

Gaydamak initially invested a lot of money in Portsmouth, but with the economic downturn taking its toll, he announced last December he could no longer devote enough time to the club.

Al Fahim, who spearheaded the City takeover before Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan emerged as the main backer, struck a deal with Gaydamak in late May before undergoing legal and financial due diligence.

The subsequent uncertainty at Fratton Park saw full-back Glen Johnson join Liverpool in a $28 million deal, while England team-mate Peter Crouch has been allowed to talk to other clubs after voicing his unhappiness.

"This appointment brings stability to the club and is excellent news for Pompey supporters," chief executive Peter Storrie, who will retain his position, told Portsmouth's official Web site on Tuesday.

"I have every reason to believe that together with the new chairman we will be able to take the club forward to further achievements, building on the successes of the past three years."

Portsmouth won the prestigious FA Cup two years ago and qualified for the UEFA Cup, but the club's momentum was derailed when manager Harry Redknapp left to take over at EPL rivals Tottenham then his replacement Tony Adams was sacked after a poor run of results.

Paul Hart was brought in as caretaker manager in February and saved Pompey from relegation -- and Al Fahim made his first job as chairman to reward the former Nottingham Forest boss with a two-year contract.

"Paul did a great job keeping the team in the Premier League last season, and having previously worked as director of youth operations he knows the club inside out," Al Fahim said.

"He has immense experience and a great knowledge of the game, and commands the respect of the players. I'm looking forward to working with him."

Born in 1977, Al Fahim started his own business at the age of 18 and moved to the United States after his parents and brother died in a road accident when he was 21.

A keen chess player, he is chairman of the United Arab Emirates Chess Association, while he is the host of business-themed reality television show Hydra Executives.

Hydra has sports sponsorship interests in Dubai, Costa Rica and Germany's Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has given up on signing Crouch following talks with the 28-year-old.

The Black Cats had agreed a fee for the gangly former Liverpool frontman, but he now appears set to return to his native London with either Fulham or Tottenham.

"Naturally this is hugely disappointing for us as Peter was one of our primary targets," Bruce told his club's official Web site.

"I know he was impressed with the set up here when he came for talks, but it's simply a matter of geographical location and that's not something we can affect.

"What's pleasing however is that it shows the intent of the club going forward that we are trying to bring in players of his caliber, and we will continue to pursue other targets.

"We have a number of irons in the fire at present and we will be looking to make several additions to our squad in the coming weeks."

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