Khan com­mit­ted to keep­ing Ful­ham at Craven Cot­tage

Bristol Post - - SPORT -

FUL­HAM owner Shahid Khan has writ­ten to ev­ery Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion coun­cil­lor to as­sure them he has no in­ten­tion of mov­ing the Premier League club to Wem­b­ley if his pro­posed pur­chase of the sta­dium is ap­proved.

The Amer­i­can bil­lion­aire’s £900mil­lion of­fer for Wem­b­ley was dis­cussed by the 127-strong coun­cil yes­ter­day, with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber strongly op­posed to the idea of sell­ing the na­tional sta­dium, even though the FA has pledged to spend the wind­fall on grass­roots fa­cil­i­ties.

Some of this op­po­si­tion is emo­tional, but some is based on con­cerns about Khan’s mo­tives for buy­ing the sta­dium, which was re­opened in 2007 af­ter a £757mil­lion re­build, in­clud­ing a be­lief that he wants to base both his Na­tional Foot­ball League team, the Jack­sonville Jaguars, and Ful­ham there.

Ful­ham’s former as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of foot­ball Craig Kline has resur­faced this week af­ter his ac­ri­mo­nious exit from the club a year ago, claim­ing that Khan re­ally plans to build lux­ury flats at Craven Cot­tage – an al­le­ga­tion Ful­ham has dis­missed as “non­sense”.

In his let­ter, Khan wrote: “When I was priv­i­leged to be­come chair­man of Ful­ham in 2013, I im­me­di­ately en­coun­tered ru­mours as to what this meant for the fu­ture of our home ground of Craven Cot­tage and, for that mat­ter, the club it­self.

“My word at the time was I would in­vest in the club and the ren­o­va­tion of Craven Cot­tage so it would al­ways be the life­time and spir­i­tual home of Ful­ham, but only in a man­ner that would be re­spect­ful of the neigh­bour­hood while also de­liv­er­ing eco­nomic and qual­ity of life ben­e­fits that would serve all Lon­don­ers ev­ery day of the year.

“Com­mit­ting to do­ing the right thing, and then do­ing it right, was the only path I would con­sider.”

Khan then ex­plained that “years of care­ful plan­ning and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with ev­ery stake­holder imag­in­able” will en­able him to build a new River­side Stand at the 122-year-old sta­dium, adding 5,000 to the ground’s cur­rent 25,000 ca­pac­ity.

This ex­pe­ri­ence, he wrote, proves that “a new era for Craven Cot­tage is on the hori­zon”, just as it could be for Wem­b­ley, a venue that has al­ready fallen “a stage or two be­hind newer sta­di­ums that have opened re­cently in Europe alone”.

The FA’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Mark Bur­rows said much the same thing in a Wem­b­ley sale pre­sen­ta­tion to the bosses of county FAs on Tues­day, adding that sell­ing the sta­dium would save the na­tional gov­ern­ing body £72mil­lion in main­te­nance costs at Wem­b­ley.

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