Is the Mohamed Al-Fayed dynasty close to an end at Fulham Football Club?
If you believe reports from London this morning then it is edging near, as the mega-rich owner has apparently put Fulham up for sale.
The potential buyer may surprise you, but also excite you. Jacksonville Jaguar owner Shad Khan is apparently in pole position to buy the swish West London side.
Any potential deal is being closely guarded by Fulham, but sources
suggest a fee of $225 million would be enough to make Khan the sixth US
owner of an EPL side. The Pakistani-American has already agreed for the
Jaguars to play at Wembley in each of the next four seasons, maybe his
roots in London will strengthen by adding Fulham to his portfolio?
But focusing on the current owner, Al-Fayed is deemed a "legend" in
many respects across English soccer and the business world. The Egyptian
businessmen formerly owned the luxury, world-renowned department story
Harrods in London's swanky Kensington neighborhood but many soccer fans
have seen his familiar face in the stands following Fulham's promotion
to the English Premier League side back in 2001.
But after 16 years in charge and pouring hundreds of millions of
dollars into the West London club, Al-Fayed is set to sale his beloved
club with Fulham now an established Premier League outfit.
The project has been an incredible one from start to finish, as
Al-Fayed proved his strong business acumen once more by buying
struggling fourth division Fulham for just $10 million back in 1997. He
then helped steer the club to the EPL and poured over $300 million into
the side by adding top players over the years such as Edwin Van Der Sar,
Clint Dempsey and Dimitar Berbatov.
Al-Fayed has also renovated Craven Cottage into a top class stadium
while still keeping its charm and quaint nature. (Hence the famous
Cottage remaining in one corner of the ground.) A statue of Michael
Jackson outside the venue also gives you an idea of the high circles
Al-Fayed moves in. He really is a hugely powerful man who may believe
now is the best time to sell.
Also, let us not forget the huge American influence at Craven Cottage
since they joined the EPL. US internationals Carlos Bocanegra and Brian
McBride have captained Fulham, while current Seattle forward Eddie
Johnson has also played for Cottagers. And how can we forget the most
notable US star to shine brightly down by the banks of the River Thames:
So with all these links to the US, it would be a pretty smart move
for a US businessmen or owner to look into acquiring Fulham. And that is
apparently in the cards.
Khan, owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, is friendly with
Al-Fayed and is said to be extremely interested in buying the club. If
this did happen, more US stars could soon be flocking to West London and
the return of "Fuhamerica" could take place.
We'd all love that.
The report seems to be close to the mark, we shall see how it pans
out. But Al-Fayed's illustrious legacy in the EPL and at Fulham will
always be remembered fondly, regardless of any potential new owner.
But exciting times will lie ahead at Craven Cottage if Khan gets his hands on the EPL side.
Joe Prince-Wright, ProSoccerTalk.com