Moroccan businessman and owner of Wiltshire football club Salisbury City signs Saudi prince as midfielder

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Written by:   | Posted 10-June-2014 9:26

When their beloved football club was apparently saved by a Moroccan businessman with links to oil-rich sheikhs, Salisbury City fans could have been forgiven for dreaming of Saudi princes transforming their fortunes off the pitch – not in midfield.

For on a rollercoaster day yesterday, fans of the Wiltshire team were first told their club had been taken over by Moroccan businessman Otail Touzar, who had appointed himself chairman – and then signed a Saudi prince to play in midfield.

All of this was apparently news to people working at the club – who arrived first thing Monday morning to discover Mr Touzar had posted in the middle of the night on the club’s website pictures of him taking over as chairman, and signing a 19-year-old member of the Saudi royal family called Prince Khalid Bin Bader Alsaud.

Mr Touzar, who proclaimed himself the “youngest pro football club owner in the world” yesterday, said he had been “in negotiations” with several top Premiership or Spanish clubs to buy them instead, but settled on Salisbury City, who play in the Skrill Conference Premier.

And after announcing he had taken over the chairmanship of Salisbury City, Mr Touzar proudly unveiled his first signing – the Saudi prince who he said was a “versatile midfielder”.

Mr Touzar said Prince Khalid had “signed from non-league side Bromley FC”. A spokesman for Bromley initially said he could not remember a Saudi prince ever playing for the Kent club, which plays in the Skrill South, the league below Salisbury City. But this was only because modesty had casued Prince Khalid to keep his royal status a secret from his fellow club members at Bromley. A few hours later the spokesman said he had discovered Prince Khalid had ‘apparently turned out a couple of times for the reserves last season’.

“We get lots of players coming along saying they want to play for us, so what usually happens is we’ll have a look at them in the reserves, it seems that’s what happened with him,” the spokesman said.

Mr Touzar said the 19-year-old would become the “first Arab and Saudi Royal to play professional football in history, and what a better historic and special place for that to happen than Salisbury”.

“I am very happy to be joining Salisbury City FC, who have shown an interest in young players which is encouraging for me,” said the prince himself. “I want to thank the club’s new chairman Mr Outail for putting his faith in me and hope I can gain some experience this season and show that I deserve to be here.

“I’m looking forward to working with the players and managers at this club and this is an exciting new chapter in my life,” he added.

Mr Touzar, who referred to himself as “Chairman Outail” in the statement, added: “Khalid is a hard working individual who loves and understands his football.

“I’ve been receiving great reports and reviews on him from our scouts and advisers and we look forward to welcoming him to join the rest of the squad for pre-season and hopefully this will be an opportunity for him to learn and develop both as a player and as a person,” he added.

He and business partner Mark Winter effectively saved the club last month when they invested in the Whites, paying wages and meeting conditions from the Conference league organisers who were threatening to demote Salisbury.

The Wiltshire club had been demoted two divisions a couple of years ago for a chaotic business structure and going into administration, but the club had turned itself around on the pitch and battled back to enjoy a stable first season in the Conference.

Mr Touzar, 31, teamed up with 47-year-old Mr Winter, who coaches Salisbury’s under-11s side, and said they wanted to take on the club. After successfully ending the demotion threat last week, yesterday morning at 4.37am, Mr Touzar posted a statement on the club’s website saying he was the new chairman.

The statement from the new chairman, which club sources indicated yesterday staff knew nothing about until they saw it online themselves, read: “In addition to becoming the youngest pro football club owner in the world and the newest Arab investor in European football after completing a takeover deal for the club couple weeks ago along with British businessman Mark Winter, Mr Outail becomes the youngest chairman in English football.”

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