Pak-American billionaire Shahid Khan has purchased Fulham Football Club from the long-serving owner Mohamed Al-Fayed and now controls 100% of the London-based club.
Shahid Khan was listed as the 491st wealthiest man in the world according to Forbes in 2012 and is worth $2.9 billion ( 1.92 bn) as or March 2013 – more than twice as much as Al-Fayed.
After 16 years at Craven Cottage, the Egyptian is leaving the Cottagers behind after seeing them gain two promotions and reach the UEFA Europa League final under his ownership.
It all began in May 1997 for Mohamed Al-Fayed when he purchased Fulham Football Club in the summer of 1997 shortly after they gained promotion from the Third Division (fourth tier) as runners-up to Wigan Athletic.
The deal cost the successful Egyptian businessman 6.25m. It is reported that Al-Fayed has sold the club for somewhere between 150-200m.
Al-Fayed’s first season as the owner of Fulham saw them finish sixth in the third tier – losing to Grimsby Town in the semi-finals. Micky Adams started the season as manager, Kevin Keegan ended it at the helm. Players included future manager Chris Coleman and other ex-Premier League players Maik Taylor, Alan Neilson, Ian Selley, Paul Bracewell, Paul Trollope and Paul Moody.
Kevin Keegan guided Fulham into the second tier of English football the following season – amassing a 14-point lead over runners-up Walsall as the Cottagers gained 101 points in 1998-99. Players include Philippe Albert (loan), Rufus Brevett, Steve Finnan, Kit Symons, Gus Uhlenbeek, John Salako, Peter Beardsley, Barry Hayles and Geoff Horsfield.
A top-half finish followed during their first season in Division One (now known as the Championship). With the investments Al-Fayed was making (Marcus Hahnemann, Andy Melville, Lee Clark, Bjarne Goldb k, Karl-Heinz Riedle) and new manager Jean Tigana, this team had ambitions to reach the top.
In their second season in the second tier, Fulham achieved just that. Another 101 points were posted – this time finishing 10-points above runners-up Blackburn Rovers. Louis Saha had top-scored for the club whilst John Collins had also been acquired.
Fulham had flown through the lower leagues – three promotions in five seasons; two of these since Mohamed Al-Fayed had taken over and invested in the club.
Louis Saha was a big hit during his first season in the Premier League, scoring 8 goals, joint-top scorer with Barry Hayles and newly-signed Steed Malbranque. To sure things up at the back, Edwin van der Sar had been signed in a 7.1 million deal from Italian Serie A giants Juventus.
During their first two Premier League campaigns, Fulham would use Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road as their home stadium whilst Craven Cottage underwent 8 million worth of refurbishment to bring the ground up to Premier League standards.
The 2013-14 season with be Fulham’s thirteenth consecutive in the Premier League and their first without Mohamed Al-Fayed. Their highest finish came in 2008-09 when they finished 7th under Roy Hodgson. The following season, the future England national team manager guided them to the UEFA Europa League final, losing to Atl tico Madrid.
Both van der Sar and Saha would go on to win Premier League titles with Manchester United, as would Chris Smalling more recently. Other exciting players to make a name for themselves at Fulham included Junichi Inamoto, Sylvain Legwinski, Papa Bouba Diop, Clint Dempsey and Mousa Demb l .
And let’s not forget Facundo Sava’s goal celebration:
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