Al Fayed lauds 'new era' for Fulham

Updated: 2013-07-14 08:04

By Reuters in London (China Daily)

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Mohamed Al Fayed, the man behind Fulham's modern rebirth, is asking fans to get behind new owner Shahid Khan, while describing Friday's takeover as a "new era" for the club.

Al Fayed sought to soothe the nerves of supporters as the Londoners took a step into the unknown after 16 years of improvement and stability under the watchful eye of the Egyptian businessman.

Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, assumed "100 percent ownership of the club, debt-free, as of today", the Premier League team said on its website.

Al Fayed, who lifted Fulham from the third tier to the top flight, attracted a string of high-profile managers and steered the club into its maiden European final, stressed there would be continuity in the boardroom.

"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," he said.

"The time is right because I have found a very good man in Shahid Khan to accept the responsibility and privilege I have enjoyed since 1997. Fulham will be in very good hands with Shahid, whose success in business and passion for sport is very evident."

The sentiment was echoed by Khan, keen to impress upon fans the principles that had underpinned Al Fayed's time in charge would be maintained.

"Fulham is the perfect club at the perfect time for me," Khan said.

"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."

Fulham fans saw their club transformed after Al Fayed's takeover in 1997, from lower league strugglers to stable Premier League competitors who have forged traditions of playing open, attacking soccer.

When the Egyptian completed a six million pounds ($9.07 million) takeover at Craven Cottage in 1997, he promised supporters the club would be playing in the top flight within five years. It made it in four.

(China Daily 07/14/2013 page7)