Khan committed to keeping Fulham at Craven Cottage
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.