Soccer / Premiership / Now It's Official: Grant Takes Reins at Portsmouth

Avram Grant has been named manager of Portsmouth to replace Paul Hart, who was sacked earlier this week, the club announced yesterday. The appointment confirmed widely held predictions that the former Chelsea manager would return to coaching a Premiership club.

"Avram is a very experienced and respected manager who has managed at the highest level. The board believes he is the man to help steer the club out of the relegation zone," chief executive Peter Storrie said on the club's Web site.

The Israeli will take charge of the league's bottom team for the home game against Manchester United tomorrow in his role as director of football. The club will then apply to switch his work permit status to manager.

"He knows the club, the players and the set-up at Fratton Park, so it was the logical move to make him the next manager, once the board had decided to relieve Paul Hart of the role," Storrie added.

The 54-year-old former Portsmouth technical director returned in October shortly after Saudi Arabian businessman Ali al Faraj's takeover of the south-coast club.

Grant was at Portsmouth for 13 months before becoming director of football at Chelsea in July 2007, replacing Jose Mourinho as manager two months later. Despite becoming the only manager to take the west London club to the Champions League final, he was sacked in May 2008.

Grant faces a very different challenge at Portsmouth trying to keep the club in the Premier League. It has endured a miserable season, having become the first English top-flight side in 79 years to lose their opening seven games of the campaign.

The team is four points below the safety zone after 13 games with their position unlikely to improve with matches against United, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal approaching.

Former manager Hart steered Portsmouth away from the drop zone last season but was hindered this term by financial restrictions at the troubled club.

Al Faraj bought 90 percent of the shares last month from Sulaiman al Fahim, who had bought the club from Alexander Gaydamak in August, but struggled to refinance Portsmouth's debts.

Al Fahim, now a minority owner, earlier this month told Reuters a transfer freeze imposed by the Premier League in October for unpaid debts to other clubs would soon be lifted.

"We will have our first official board meeting on December 1 and I am giving back the property rights to the club so they can upgrade the current stadium," Fahim said on November 15.

In September, payments to some of the first team squad were delayed, highlighting the club's problems.