‘I stand by my story and will fight them every step of the way.’ - Micah Hall
In Defence Of Micah Hall and Freedom of Speech
If you are a football fan that does take an interest in the ugliest aspect of the game, you might know Micah Hall as the Portsmouth FC fan who has written a series of explosive, revelatory blog articles that have provided insight into the business and financial relationships surrounding the ongoing crisis at Pompey.
Micah’s thoroughly researched, well-written blogs have played a large part in exposing the complex ownership and financial relationships behind the scenes at Pompey that have seen the club spiralling into a black-hole of debt, administration, redundancy and failure on the pitch.
The club plummeted from the Premiership & FA cup glory to bottom-of-league-one woe, under the stewardship of a slew of owners and their associates, who have claimed to have the “best interests of the club at heart”, yet seem content to settle for draining every lost drop of financial lifeblood from the club, its supporters and creditors.
If you are a Portsmouth Football Club fan, you will recognise Micah as a passionate supporter of the club, with a sincere belief in its values, its role in community, and what the game means to football fans.
For a five minute introduction into the tireless work that Micah Hall has carried out for Pompey, take a look at this recording of his interview with Sky News, way back in 2010:
Micah Hall talks to Sky News (2010)
Micah Hall is not a professional journalist. He is a football fan, who just so happens to write blogs. He makes no money from these blogs, and any income that does come in from these blogs is given to charity.
Yet they are so brilliantly written that everyone should be able understand them without a qualification or interest in business law, accounting or football club ownership rules – or even football.
Micah Hall’s blogs expose a complex web of financial mismanagement, poor executive decision making, subterfuge, duplicity, mischief making & perhaps even fraudulent, criminal behaviour, carried out by a motley collection of questionable characters that have been involved in Pompey’s past.
Micah Hall has been one of a few brave voices that have had the temerity to question the behaviour of football club owners, and also the failure of the legal rules in place that should have prevented the disastrous cycle of ownership and administration that has engulfed Pompey over the past four or five years.
Its fair to say that his writing has been acknowledged as some of the best football / financial related research and blogging, with praise from professional journalists and other sporting and financial experts, pundits and other bloggers.
If his research and writing hasn’t directly affected the outcome of some of the decision-making by those that currently hold the balance of life or liquidation over Pompey, such as the administrators and the football league, it is reasonable to assume that his writing has at least made them stop and think before they have acted, preventing the issue of ownership as just another box-ticking exercise that has led to Pompey’s current predicament.
So in many ways it was never a surprise that legal action might be threatened by those with vested interests in the future of Portsmouth Football Club.
The only real surprise is where it has come from – a relatively minor player in the Portsmouth ownership story - one Pascal Najadi - who was named as a partner / investor in what has been known as the ‘Harris bid’ for Portsmouth Football Club.
While PFC’s administrator was more or less obliged to consider Keith Harris’ last-minute bid, the Football League rejected it out of hand in favour of the preferred bidder, the Portsmouth Supporters Trust.
You can read the first two parts of these profiles here [HALL RIGHT NOW: The men who would run Pompey and why they shouldn't... #1] - and here [HALL RIGHT NOW: The men who would run Pompey and why they shouldn't... #2].
Of the three articles, the last - a profile of Pascal Najadi - was on the surface the least controversial, indeed aspects of it could be seen as favourable. So it was probably a surprise that he should begin legal action first against Fans Network, for publishing the article, and then subsequently against Micah Hall.
As a consequence, part three of Micah Hall's articles has been removed from Fans Network.
Below is a transcript of Pascal Najadi’s notice of intent of legal action, sent to Micah Hall, and published here as an image of his original press release – spelling and grammatical errors included.
Pascal Najadi is a wealthy businessman that has the powerful muscle of Public Relations firms, lawyers and global business connections around the world. Micah Hall is an independent blogger, family man and ordinary football supporter with limited financial resources.
What does Mr Najadi hope to achieve by pursuing both Fans Online and Micah Hall, that could not have been achieved by publically challenging the content of the blogs, or responding to Micah Hall’s invitation to right-of-reply to all the parties involved? Any legal action in the High Court will surely only lead to negative publicity, perceived as a ‘David and Goliath’ struggle between billionaire and ordinary blogger.
Micah Hall has this to say about the possibility of legal action:
‘I stand by my story and will fight them every step of the way.’
You can read more about the story in an article by SJ Maskell on the website 200%.
Does he really think that Micah Hall really has enough power of influence over Pompey’s administrators PKF, the Football League and the courts to prevent the successful takeover of PFC by the Harris consortium?
The simple truth is that the Football League have tightened their rules and regulations over the past year or so in order to prevent its members from being engulfed in the same ownership disasters at Pompey.
The Football League was sufficiently concerned by the Harris bid to reject it. The fact that in turn they reiterated their support for the ‘preferred bidder’, the Portsmouth Supporters Trust indicates that they were willing to protect their members, including PFC, and the league itself, from any further damage by parties that had been previously involved with the club.
The threat of litigation from Mr Najadi is part of the final, desperate death throes of those that have sought to undermine the Portsmouth Supporters Trust bid for Pompey to promote their own vested interests.
In turn it is an attack on an ordinary football supporter who just so happens to be talented and determined enough to write what he sees as the truth.
It is an attack on the free nature of the internet, the freedom of self expression and free speech itself.
If you would like to read more, and read Micah Halls' thoughts please read SJ Maskell's article on 200 per cent
Stand Up For Free Speech - Sign The Petition!
Micah Hall’s blogs are not vindictive. They are enquiries into the behaviours, practices and relationships of powerful businessmen that would rather the public didn’t know or care too much about.
To that end, I would like to ask anyone who believes passionately in free speech and the right of expression to sign the this online petition.
The Portsmouth football community has already began a defence fund for Mr Hall, should it be necessary to defend his right to express his opinions, in the High Court.
If you have a paypal account, you can make a donation to his defence fund via the following email address: SOS_Pompey@hotmail.co.uk
Micah Hall is not one voice alone – we as friends, as a community, as football fans, as tweeters, bloggers, journalists and activists must stand with him shoulder to shoulder and defend his rights to expression of his views and opinions.
Dan Lacey is an independent blogger, Portsmouth FC supporter and member of the Portsmouth Supporters Trust. He tweets as @whorunsmyclub on Twitter.