Shady Israeli lawyer surfaces at Portsmouth

Shady Israeli lawyer sur

A year after making headlines in Israel for a bizarre episode with Betar Jerusalem, convicted fraudster Daniel Azugi is creating a stir in England due to his involvement at Premier League club Portsmouth. Last January, Betar chairman Itzik Kornfein called a surprise press conference to reveal that he had been approached by Azugi, who claimed to be one of Betar owner Arkadi Gaydamak's advisers and demanded to be transferred money from the club's account. After investigating Azugi's background, Kornfein refused his request, insisting on expressed permission from Gaydamak. Azugi disappeared from the headlines after that, but resurfaced in the sports news last month in England after being handed a decision-making role at the struggling Pompey side. Portsmouth, coached by Avraham Grant, was taken over by Saudi-Arabian Ali al-Faraj in October and according to a story in The Observer on Sunday, Azugi, who was sentenced to five months of community service by the Tel Aviv Magistrates court in 2001 and was disbarred from practicing as a lawyer for 14 years, is currently one of several Israelis currently running the club. According to the report, Israeli businessmen Roni Mana and Yoram Yosepov are also said to be holding an advisory role at Pompey. Regardless of who is actually running Portsmouth, the club is in a dire situation, four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League and in heavy debt. Portsmouth owes £10m to other English clubs for past transfers and is under a transfer embargo. "Eighty per cent of the questions I have been asked since I came here haven't been about the football," said Grant on Saturday after the 1-1 draw with Coventry in the FA Cup. "I like to talk about things on the football side, but what can I do? "This is the situation and if I have to answer these questions, I will answer these questions. But there are enough problems on the pitch we need to take care of."