The American invasion of the Premier League continues with the news that the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has bought Fulham from Mohamed Al Fayed for between £150m and £200m depending on the source.
The 84-year-old Fayed had owned Fulham for 16 years investing several hundred million pounds in the club.
“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,” Al Fayed said in a statement on the Fulham web site.
“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, who is worth £1.9billion according to Forbes, making him the 490th richest man in the world said this via the club’s web site.
“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 programmes as fundamentally important elements of Fulham’s future.”
So what kind of owner will Khan be for Fulham? While he has money, he is not wealthy like Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansou, he is more in line with Glazers and Kroenke.
While Glazers and Kroenke run big clubs with big stadiumsm who have Premier League and Champions League ambitions that is not Fulham. Fulham is a middle of the table Premier League side, who play in this throwback stadium literally right on the River Thames. Fulham cannot compete financially with the big boys in the Premier League, especially after the introduction of Financial Fair Play.
So why did Khan by Fulham? To me the elephant in the room is the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars who Khan wants to move to London from Jacksonville on a permanent basis. Forget for a moment that every Jacksonville away game would then be at least a six hour flight, but if the Jags move to London they would need a stadium to play in, as Craven Cottage is too small.
Could the takeover of Fulham be the first move that ultimately involves the Jacksonville Jaguars relocating to London and moving into a new stadium somewhere in the city, but not in west London and Fulham joining them there?
I think that is the long-term aim of Khan, but in the short-term Fulham and manager Martin Jol should get a fresh influx of money to bring in some additional players this summer that he was probably not expecting.