Fulham Football Club have been sold to Pakistan-born American billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of the NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars.
The deal has been approved by the Premier League. According to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Khan paid Mohamed Al Fayed in the region of £150-£200million to buy the club.
The deal means that 30% of Premier League clubs are owned (or majority owned) by Americans. The other clubs being Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Sunderland.
Khan’s estimated fortune is £1.7 billion. The majority of fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars are enamored by US citizen Khan who has built an entertaining product to watch in northern Florida. London is to central to Khan’s plans for the Jaguars. The NFL team has agreed to play four of their home games at Wembley for the next four years. And there have been rumors that the Jaguars could relocate to London to become the NFL’s first overseas team.
“My time of serving as the custodian of Fulham Football Club would one day come to an end, and I feel that time has now arrived,” Mohamed Al Fayed said. “The time is right because I have found a very good man in Shahid Khan to accept the responsibility and privilege that I have enjoyed at Fulham since 1997. Fulham will be in very good hands with Shahid, whose success in business and passion for sport is very evident. I ask everyone who loves Fulham and our Craven Cottage home to welcome Shahid as he begins his journey as the next guardian of Fulham Football Club.”
Khan added: “I was recently very fortunate to have been introduced to Mohamed Al Fayed, a man I respect and admire immensely for what he has accomplished in his life and – above all – what he has given others. Today, he is giving me the privilege and responsibility of serving as the next custodian of Fulham Football Club. I am extremely honoured to accept and want to thank him, on behalf of everyone who loves Fulham, for 16 years of exceptional service to the Club. Mr Al Fayed rescued the club in its hour of need and has led it to a sustained place within the Premier League.
“Fulham is the perfect club at the perfect time for me. I want to be clear, I do not view myself so much as the owner of Fulham, but a custodian of the club on behalf of its fans. My priority is to ensure the club and Craven Cottage each have a viable and sustainable Premier League future that fans of present and future generations can be proud of. We will manage the club’s financial and operational affairs with prudence and care, with youth development and community programs as fundamentally important elements of Fulham’s future.”
Al Fayed and Khan have scheduled a press conference for tomorrow afternoon in England.
Here’s the full statement from Mohamed Al Fayed:
“It has been a pleasure and privilege to be the Chairman of Fulham Football Club for 16 memorable years. I am now delighted to be passing this great and historic Club into the care and stewardship of an outstanding man who has already achieved much in his life and will, I am sure, take Fulham on to even greater things.
“By his hard work, vision and determination, Shahid Khan has become a living embodiment of the American success story. His achievements speak for themselves. I met him twice prior to our successful transaction this week and have been very favourably impressed.
“I pay tribute to the way in which he has already, while still young, made his mark in the world. For my part, I am glad to be placing my precious Club into such good hands. I have loved every minute of my 16 years at the helm of the London club that was established in 1879, before all the other great clubs in the Capital.
“We have had some great times, down by the Thames. There have been notable successes, as champions of League One and winners of the Championship.
“We have had some memorable times in Europe. Fulham vs Juventus was probably the greatest game ever seen at Craven Cottage and the sight of the Fulham faithful filling their end of the Elbe Arena in Hamburg, at the UEFA Europa League final will be with me forever.
“But now is the right time for me to retire and spend time playing football with my grandchildren. I am sad but proud of our achievements. I am very grateful to Fulham’s fans, the most incredible fans in the world. They have given me their support and affection whenever they have seen me at home games. I would never let them down. I have passed the Club to a talented, honest and highly capable man who respects Fulham and its traditions. He is a great sportsman.
“Fulham is now embarking upon its 13th season in the Premier League. I bid farewell comforted by the knowledge that Fulham is a very well-run Club that has never been in better shape.
“I shall look to Shahid Khan to build on the success of the 16 seasons and to deliver the greater glory that the fans desire and deserve. I look forward to seeing you down at the Cottage where I shall return, on occasion, to cheer on the team.
“Now a new era dawns.”