Pompey fans will breathe a sigh of relief today as it seems Tal Ben-Haim has finally agreed to leave the club after agreeing a compromise deal with administrator Trevor Birch.
Ben-Haim, well documented as Pompey’s highest earner, was even on as much as £36,000-a-week at one point, but with only him and Liam Lawrence left at the club and the August 10th deadline drawing closer – it looks like Pompey are that much closer to surviving.
Having been greeted with chants of “Get out of our club, get out of our club, you thieving bastard, get out of our club,” during pre-season appearances against Aldershot, Bolton and AFC Wimbledon, the Israeli defender has now agreed to indeed get out of our club.
Rumours reported last night in the Daily Mail claimed that Ben-Haim was likely to join Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv on a season-long loan to allow him to depart the club and free up the wages in order to help the club survive, however, according to reports at Sky Sports and the Portsmouth News, the 30-year-old appears to have reached a compromise to cancel his contract at club, making him a free agent.
For all the criticism he’s received for his high wages and lack of communication or even acknowledgement of the fans, Ben-Haim has been a consistently high performer at Portsmouth Football Club, making 57 appearances in three years at the club. In the Championship, Ben-Haim shone as a quality defender, and despite all the issues off the pitch, he remained a top quality defender. The Israeli was loaned out to West Ham between August 2010 and January 2011 but only made 12 appearances in all competitions.
There was rumoured interest from newly promoted West Ham last week but it seems they may be able to get their man on a free transfer if they wish.
The final remaining senior player is Liam Lawrence. There seems to be mixed rumours on Lawrence’s future. After putting in a sensational display against Bolton Wanderers last weekend, and scoring a free-kick, many fans on social networks Twitter and Facebook suggested that it would be great if Lawrence could stay but take a large pay cut. Many rumours have followed this suggestion that Lawrence may indeed take a big cut to remain at the club as captain and lead Pompey to League One promotion, however there seems to still be a bit of interest from Cardiff City after impressing on a loan spell at the back-end of last season.
Either way it looks like a deal could be very close to being completed.
Surprisingly I’d like to thank Ben-Haim for his efforts at finally coming to an agreement to move on, after all he did lose out on over £2m in wages over the three years, and he’s always put in a top performance – even when the Fratton faithful were booing him or chanting abuse. I can’t say I’ve warmed to him but would like to at least thank him for finally doing the right thing and giving our football club a fighting chance!
Now it is up to Portsmouth City Council to come to some sort of arrangement with regards to the request for a loan by the Pompey Supporter’s Trust to allow them to complete a takeover of the club.
Trevor Birch released the following statement on the official website earlier this morning:
“I am pleased to announce that we have reached a compromise agreement with Tal Ben Haim, who will now leave the club.
“We expect to make an announcement on Liam Lawrence’s future later today (Thursday) and, while the situation with Kanu has not yet been resolved, we are cautiously optimistic about our prospects.
“The progress that we have made over the past 24 hours means that there is now a much better prospect of meeting the conditions of the CVA, completing the sale of the club and avoiding liquidation.
“As a result, we will now push on with our negotiations with Portpin, with a view to finalising a deal in the next few days.
“There is still more to do, and the club’s future is not yet guaranteed, but we’re in a stronger position and will now take some additional time to try to conclude matters.”