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Monday, 23 December, 2002, 12:14 GMT
Where now for Fulham?
Fulham chief Mohamed Al Fayed rules out the multi-million pound redevelopment of Craven Cottage.
Do you agree with his decision?
The west London club's flamboyant owner has said that spending £100m on the ground would leave Fulham with an unhealthy amount of debt.
But Cottagers' fans are unlikely to be keen on leaving the ground that has been their home since 1896, especially after being granted planning permission to redevelop the stadium.
Until Fulham find a new home, the current ground share with Queens Park Rangers looks set to continue.
The other option would be to return to the Cottage in its present state.
What do you think about Al Fayed's decision, and what should Fulham do now?
This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.
Please enlighten an arithmetically challenged soul. With inflation currently at 3%, how can a project, costed at £70m just two years ago, have increased by 43%?
Firstly! Those who knock Fulham for buying success are wrong (or just ignorant!) Fulham have in place one of the finest youth programs in the land! And our long term goal IS to bring through our own players...
If you look at other teams who spent BIG to get to the promise land, Newcastle, Sunderland and Blackburn to name a few, they all spent BIG (though maybe over a longer term) to get there, and now all are aiming to do the same as us!
Back to the Cottage issue - WHAT A DISGRACE! Merry Christmas to the suits at FFC!
Don't like it, but without Mr Al Fayed we would not have survived! Sometimes hard choices have to be made and I shall keep my fingers crossed for my beloved Fulham.
Greedy developers have a lot to with this problem in my view. Supporters and club members have to find a way of generating new proposals. Without increased capacity, expansion and revenue players will leave.
It looks as though Big Mo's plan has been nothing more then to go back into the First Division and develop the ground from there, rather then build a new Old Trafford.
I'm a Dons fan, and I'm getting flashbacks of Wimbledon already. Why don't they move to Milton Keynes and share Franchise's ground? After all, there is a great demand for football there, and Fulham won't forget the fans. That's what they told us!
I am a real big Fulham fan, I go to all the home matches at Loftus Road and was a season ticket-holder at the Cottage. When I heard about the Cottage redevelopment being abandoned, I was really sad about it as CC is our spiritual home.
However, I do understand Al Fayed's motives. It is an expensive business and it's better to have a brand new stadium than sharing with QPR or Chelsea all our lives!
I just hope we still do get decent crowds after this decision, as it is important to support the boys! We should be grateful to Al Fayed for what he had done for us, he has pumped millions into our club and really raised us in football. And we should all back Al Fayed as he is thinking in the best interest of our club.
Welcome to the real world, Fulham. Al Fayed seems to be losing interest in his 'play thing'. As a QPR supporter I have to say that most Hoops fans oppose a long term ground share - is this a case of returning to the status quo?
SW6, UK How can you compare Sam Hamman to Al Fayed. Sam has regenerated the bluebirds over the last couple of seasons. Yes, he's a business man but he didn't sink Wimbledon an average gate of 7,000 fans did!!
Sam has got plans for Cardiff City with a new 30,000-seater stadium, with the provision to build another 30,000 if all goes well. Just because Al Fayed is, in my opinion, a hypocrite and will take the money as soon as he makes it, to invest in other ventures, remember: the Fulham board allowed him in. So they're just the same.
My sympathies go out to all the loyal Fulham fans who feel they've been shafted, but don't compare chalk with cheese. C'mon the Bluebirds....
As a Fulham fan all my life, I am gutted that CC is almost certainly resigned to history. However, I do not believe Fayed bought FFC to deliberately undermine the club and sell its prime asset. £13m just on Steve Marlet is enough to verify that.
Since then, the fortunes of football, bar the ever-expanding elite, have plunged. How could we seriously bankroll even a £70m stadium when it is clear that FFC are seriously over-spending and Fayed is spent?
We need alternatives within our financial scope. Bolting seats on the CC terraces is a temporary solution. Planning permission is required for everything else, except continued ground share at Loftus Road. I fear that will be our 'home' for the conceivable future ... but without Fayed would we be in a better position? I suspect not.
The point about supporting a football team is you support your LOCAL team. I grew up next to the Cottage and have always supported Fulham. My whole family goes and we love the whole day.
Going to Loftus Road has already robbed us of some of the magic. Moving anywhere else will make the whole process seem all the more ludicrous.
I already go to a number of Chelsea games and if we move even further west I can see little point in renewing my season ticket. The magic of the Cottage, standing by the river on a bleak afternoon, is gone, the players are changed to French imports and the atmosphere is dying.
Fayed, you have messed with the one thing in football you cannot, which is a loyal fan base. I for one would rather watch AFC Wimbledon than a meaningless franchise on the western corridor...
I doubt that you would want to anyway but just to confirm you are definitely not welcome at Stamford Bridge.
Al Fayed has been great for Fulham. But it appears yet again that Fulham have a chairman desperate to remove us from the Cottage.
I cannot make it to Loftus Road, as it takes me over an hour and £2 of my own money, as a 16-year-old, to travel there. Craven Cottage took 20 mins and none of my money on public transport.
Also I prefer to stand on the terraces, rather than to sit at matches. I accept that now Fulham are in the Premiership this is not an option at the moment, but I would urge the FA to look at the possibility of small carefully controlled terraced areas in stadia.
I had a season ticket last season at Fulham, on the Putney 'quiet you'll distract the players' Terrace and there was no significant trouble all season.
I've been to London twice, and don't know the politics or geography that well, but why don't Chelsea and Fulham split a ground? In fact, I would go further, there are too many stadia in London, every team should be ground sharing, especially Tottenham and Arsenal.
If Wimbledon had simply made a ground sharing agreement with a team in the vicinity or just continued to share with CP it could have saved money and kept the team in its vicinity instead of sending it to Milton Keynes.
This whole club rivalry thing is stupid and a waste of money that could be better spent on players. And if the planning commission doesn't help, go over their heads! Just an outsider's point of view.
Not talking to Tigana about his future, not prepared to invest in the home of the club.....this sounds to me like Mr Al Fayed has become bored of being a football club chairman!
I was at Hammersmith Town Hall when the new planning application was passed by the council. We fought long and hard to get to that point... for what?
The club has treated the fans very poorly in not keeping them informed as to what the situation is... far too much spin and ambiguity in their statements.
We don't have the biggest support around so a stadium with 28-30,000 seats would have been quite enough. If the club and Mr Al Fayed couldn't afford it, they should have told us a long time ago. Back To The Cottage!
CC was in the wrong place in the 50s when I started supporting FFC and it's even more in the wrong place now. It could never support a stadium big enough for Premiership/European football. Let Al Fayed take the £141m he's been offered and build a stadium in a sensible place with a capacity to suit.
SW6, UK How can you compare Sam Hamman to Al Fayed? Sam has regenerated Cardiff over the last couple of seasons. Yes, he's a business man but he didn't sink Wimbledon - an average gate of 7,000 fans did!!
Sam has got plans for Cardiff City with a new 30,000-seater stadium, with the provision to build another 30,000 if all goes well. Just because Al Fayed is, in my opinion, a hypocrite and will take the money as soon as he makes it to invest in other ventures, remember the Fulham board allowed him in.
So they're just the same. My sympathies go out to all the loyal Fulham fans who feel they've been shafted but don't compare chalk with cheese.
Do people really think Mr Al Fayed will have waited this long before selling the land? He's spent a fortune on the players and salary. If he wanted to sell the Cottage why wait until now? He could have maximised his profit by selling the property before buying Steve Marlet or one of the other third rate imports who's salary he pays.
Say what you like about Mr Al Fayed but he is a businessman and he would have sold a lot earlier than this and would be a lot better off.
Just remember he has bought some good times to Fulham and I feel like some of these supporters are the ones doing the backstabbing. You have to take the good times with the bad and for Mr Al Fayed to have to cough up the money for some of those players must qualify as a bad time for him!
I think Mr Al Fayed's main problem is owning a club based in a Tory heartland. These types will never forgive him for his previous dealings with shady members of the former government. Have faith, Mr Al Fayed will find a way around it.
I'm not a Fulham supporter, but I think Al Fayed is right not to risk the long-term future of what has been a nice friendly club. The bottom will drop out of the market soon - possibly when the next Premiership coverage package is up for grabs.
There appear to be several greedy big name clubs reaching the point where they won't recover their debt if it goes pear-shaped. Others like West Ham have modernised their grounds but look like the team have suffered to the point where they may now spend several years in the First Division.
Al Fayed is right not to get lost in the excitement of being in the Premiership. Perhaps a smaller capacity at Craven Cottage would be safest.
So it's all going pyramid shaped at the Cottage. Who did not see this coming? This could not have been more transparent if Harrods had started pre-selling riverside development plots.
All of you hoping for a ground share can forget it. In Italy the grounds are owned by the council and the sharing has been in place for generations. There is no precedent for one club "moving in" with another.
There is also no chance of FFC moving to share with Chelsea, the council planning permission for Chelsea Village precludes it. It was hard enough to get permission for use every other Saturday, every week is a non-starter.
I don't doubt for a moment that this has been the plan from day one. Aside from Stamford Bridge and possibly Highbury, Craven Cottage is the most 'valuable' ground in England.
Your chairman is an investor and a businessman who suddenly became a football fan in his sixties. Go figure. I have every sympathy for Fulham fans, the phrase 'done up like kippers' springs to mind.
As one of the 'evil' local residents that Mr 'Not Good Enough For A UK Passport' Al Fayed is trying to blame, I'd like to make the point that this was the plan all along. If you think he was a great saviour you are probably still expecting an old man in a beard and red coat to come down the chimney tomorrow night.
I live very near the ground and was happy to have a football ground near me. I also used to go and watch them occasionally, even a cold January game against Darlo or Hartlepool so I'm no anti-football person or a Chelsea fan.
But the scale of the development was so outside the scope of the site. Fulham fans have to wake up to the fact that they have been had, there never was a chance of the ground being built.
It makes no sense. Three sides of the ground have absolutely no access (unless you want to swim?) and the fourth side is a listed building. So if Fulham wants a mega-stadium (their crowds don't show it's needed) then they will probably have to find somewhere new, which is a shame because it was a great family club.
As a lifelong QPR supporter I would like to make it very clear that we are the ones doing Fulham a favour at the moment. We are traditionally and continue to be a bigger club than them so any suggestion made by the clearly deluded Joe Lyons should be dismissed out of hand.
Fulham supporters are about the worst in the Premiership, as seen by their reluctance to travel three miles north for matches. Do they deserve everything that is coming to them?
You only need to look at Wimbledon to find out where Fulham will end up. When the club is relegated from the Premiership (maybe not this year but probably some time in the next 3-5 years) the owner will be sitting on a huge loss in his investment and will do everything possible to develop CC for anything but football.
The club and fans will be left with nothing. A very high price for a few years of Premiership football.
A very large percentage of Fulham fans of long standing want to remain at Craven Cottage. If FFC moved somewhere else that would probably mean most of these people wouldn't follow the team anymore, making the club's apparent desire for a regularly sold out 38,000 ground even more farcical.
That's a cold hard fact for Mr Al Fayed - unless his regular protestations of love for the club were less than honest.
Today's announcement is no surprise to anyone. Al Fayed is a business man and he's seen an opportunity to make money out of selling Craven Cottage.
He has put money into the club but he'll more than get back what he's put in. Don't forget big money transfers like Marlet have been funded by bank loans, not Al Fayed. This is the begining of the end for FFC.
Good God, the naivety of some Fulham fans here is frightening. I spent 10 years as a Wimbledon fan fighting for a new home while our traditional one rotted.
It's deja vu as far as I am concerned; Fulham are looking at a merger, a ludicrous move out of London a la our old lot or a groundshare at someone else's old fortress. Ridiculous. The people running football are morons. Wake up before it's too late - you're losing your club.
Why not make the present stadium all seater? The Hammersmith and Putney ends could facilitate this and the expense would not be as great as the super-duper plans for 'The Cottage.'
After the scandalous demolition of Wembley's Twin Towers, traditions must be preserved where possible. I have been going to The Cottage for some 45 years! Also, 10 local residents complaining about the redevelopment is an insult.
The club was there before them, why move there in the first place? Even better, why not move away now!
I think that if Fulham is to succeed in the long term, a 30,000 stadium costing £100m would be a foolish investment to make. Observe the capacity of other football grounds and you see the folly in such a move.
A bigger stadium is needed and if that means moving from Craven Cottage. then so be it. I think we should be more grateful for Chairman Mo's support. If it weren't for him, we would be another First Division team.
Before Fulham fans start to criticise Al Fayed too much - remember where you were five years ago!
Stop being so precious, it's a rubbish ground anyway!
I'd sooner watch Fulham play Division One football at homely Craven Cottage than Franchise FC MkII in the Premiership at some industrial estate in the back of beyond. Success - and money - isn't everything.
Chairman Mo's objective is to make Fulham the Man U of the south. To achieve that objective in a stadium of 28,000 restricted by planning permission to staging just football games has always been impossible.
Chairman Mo should be congratulated for trying to please the fans against all the odds. At last the message is clear - Fulham will continue with the dream of becoming one of the great clubs.
I have supported Fulham for 45 years and I am grateful for what Mo has done so far and happy for him to take us forward. To say Craven Cottage is Fulham is rubbish.
It would have been nice to stay there but we have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity for greatness and we need to grasp it with both hands.
I don't believe that the average Fulham fan wants to go back to where we have come from, it was hell on wheels day after day, year after day.
This season we have had a European tour, beaten Liverpool and Tottenham, drawn with Man U and Arsenal had to be helped by the ref to get 3 points. Come on lets show our support for Mo
Al Fayed was willing to spend millions of pounds getting Fulham into the Premiership, but he's spent all he cares to and there's no money left to fix up the stadium.
Another example of why the rich owner isn't nearly as useful as the smart manager. Arsene Wenger would have needed £10m to get Fulham from Third Division to the top flight, and Al Fayed would have been able to build the stadium of his dreams.
As it is, a small club has overspent itself and there's no money for fresh paint and new carpets
I came down this Saturday from Holland to watch my favourite team QPR play Brentford. Yes, it was second division football but there was a fantastic atmosphere and a great feeling of unity among the QPR supporters.
I'd prefer this anyday above Premiership football if it meant taking the soul away from the club. Fulham supporters; fight for your cause and keep your REAL spirit alive!
It seems to me that Spurs and Fulham now need a new stadium each. I am a Spurs fan and think that a new shared stadium for Spurs and Fulham would be a good idea. It would save the two teams so much money that could be spent on buying better players to enable us to both to beat Arsenal and Chelsea on a regular basis! After all, any stadium in London is only a tube ride away.
Mr Al Fayed has bitten off more than he can chew both financially and as regards to his lack of expertise in running a football club. His ego and financial stability are going in opposite directions and Fulham FC is heading for Chapter 11 along with the club. He did try but it will all end in tears.
Plans have been in place and approved for a 30,000 stadium at CC for at least the last three years. Only after we left for Loftus Road in the summer has the need for a stadium holding 34 or even 38,000 been deemed as the minimum requirement.
A number of clubs have successfully moved but FFC and CC are inextricably linked and are as one. Help save CC and in the process Fulham Football Club.
Flats on the cottage,
They're building flats on the cottage.
Up the Bees!
Fulham without Craven Cottage will not be the same. Have we been sold out? Yes, what a price to pay for Premiership football! I would rather be back in the Third Division and still be able to watch us play at CC.
The heart of the club is being ripped away from us. Roll on the BTTC campaign. COYW.
I am absolutely disgusted at Al Fayed's decision to sell the loyal fans of Fulham down the river. A great deal of those fans have been watching football at the Cottage throughout the dark days of lower league football and this is the reward they are given for loyalty.
Al Fayed says he will not make decisions based on passion etc, this proves he knows nothing about the heritage of our game, it's all about passion, loyalty to your team during hard times and that is why football for many is seen as a microcosm for life.
Another franchised club shows how those at the top hold the supporters who keep the game alive in utter contempt. All these spineless, grey-suited accountants care about is balance sheets and gross profit. If you want to make money open a large shop or something, but leave our clubs alone.
Football clubs are about the local community and instead of turning their backs on the local community after years of support as soon as things brighten up, the club ought to be repaying some of its debt it owes to its fans.
I think it's great, that Al Fayed is thinking of the long-term future of a club I have supported for 25 years. with the status of football at the moment, the last thing we need is another team going pear-shaped.
PS Christopher of Putney, stick to being a armchair Man Utd fan, and leave Fulham to the real supporters.
Harrods' profits are down and a sale and leaseback is being discussed for the Knightsbridge site. Was the "temporary" move to Loftus Road for Fulham FC simply a softening-up process for the fans who may find that Craven Cottage will now be sold for development and the club then has to relocate?
Despite being a Chelsea supporter I do feel sorry for Fulham. Groundshare with Chelsea is the only sensible solution if Craven Cottage is not going to be redeveloped. Hopefully SW London can have two big clubs, like Milan, who groundshare with no problems.
Why all the fuss? The amount being talked about is a mere drop in the ocean to the chairman, nothing more than pin-money. There must be something else.
The statement simply leaves too many questions as opposed to providing any answers and will inevitably lead to more speculation, which is unhealthy in the extreme with Fulham's fanbase.
Absolutely shocking, if Fulham aren't careful they could end up doing a Wimbledon. Would be terrible to see.
We've been sold down the river; Fulham fans have been fighting this since the '80s, and Fayed has managed to do what other chairmen have tried in a matter of months - in May we were told we'd be back in ONE YEAR!!
Watch the luxury flats go on there in the next couple of years and Fulham rot at Loftus Road or Stamford Bridge with no identity - it's all looking too much like the next Wimbledon. In fact, Sam Hamman and Fayed: you can see the similarities can't you. £100m?! Where did that figure come from?!
Presumably Chris from Putney supports that "other" team in Fulham. Perhaps we should abolish relegation and promotion places while we are there? If they don't deserve to be there, then why are they?
Has not the attractive football produced over the last five years deserved a place in the Premiership (I think you'll find the "Premier League" is an out-dated term)?
With respect to the ground, this result was inevitable although isn't this the same "back-stabber" that has given the club financial stability for the first time in a generation? Without him we may well have been playing at Loftus Road - but not as Fulham FC.
For anybody with a passing knowledge of the state of the finances of the Harrods empire, this announcement shouldn't come as a surprise.
Instead of applauding Al Fayed, as has been suggested, for spending the money to get Fulham into the Premiership, he should be roundly vilified.
The amount of money spent to get Fulham this far is way in excess of anything that could reasonably be recouped (unless they won the title, FA Cup and Champions League for about 10 years running!!) and has seriously undermined the long-term stability of the club.
In terms of proximity to bankruptcy, Fulham aren't that much further forward than they were 8-10 years ago, it's just that they've been bankrolled to a higher place. The club certainly isn't the well-run, stable business that some posters on here seem to think.
Fulham and QPR should get together and jointly build a new stadium together.
Fulham should think seriously again about sharing Stamford Bridge. Many top European clubs now share and the cost savings enable them to buy better players. And that is what the fans want, isn't it?
Did Fulham fans ever believe that Al Fayed had any other plans than to get his hands on the prime real estate that is Craven Cottage? You've had your quick fix of Premiership football, but you've paid for it with your ground and Al Fayed is laughing all the way to the bank. And people think Ken Bates is a tyrant.
Let this be a further lesson for lower league clubs before they say yes to a rich benefactor in the future in order to progress up the league. Clubs need shrewd businessmen who are also supporters to run them, otherwise you can be left without a home.
So many so-called Fulham fans are using this whole thing as an excuse to have another moan about Fulham's "saviour" Al Fayed. The support of a football team is not about supporting where you play (OK, Milton Keynes is ridiculous), but it means supporting the team through thick and thin.
We've got it good compared to many other teams out there...Oh Yeah; God bless Joe Strummer!!
Al Fayed has got the excuse he wanted to sell off the old Craven Cottage land, thereby making himself a fortune in the name of Fulham football club.
Why does it have to be £100m or nothing? There are clubs up and down the country improving their grounds at a fraction of what Fulham feel they have to spend.
Fulham don't need an Old Trafford. The chances are they will be back in the First Division within two or three years, when a simple stadium accommodating 25-30,000 supporters will do nicely. If I'm wrong and Fulham go on to be European champions; spend the money then.
I used to live round the corner from Craven Cottage. Since early this year I'd been hearing rumours that there was no plan to redevelop the ground and there never had been. Sounds like they were true.
Oh dear, Fulham fans. You pinned your hopes on a man this country does not feel is good enough to be allowed to carry a British passport and things go pear-shaped.
Crowds at Loftus Road have been "disappointing", to use a euphemism, and now there is nowhere else to go. What will the crowds be like if the team continues to struggle (only six points above the drop at Christmas)?
I don't know the politics, but what are the chances of the site at Stevenage Road being demolished for high-priced housing and the profits going into the pockets of a Knightsbridge shop-owner?
What are the contingency plans? Merge with QPR and drop down to whatever division the Rs are in? Start a new club in one of the Combined Counties, Hellenic, Spartan South Midlands, Isthmian or Southern Leagues? Buy out QPR and close them down? Rent Loftus Road for the rest of time?
Anyway, the Fulham of Craven Cottage seems to be consigned to history. That is a tragedy for what was once a fantastic family club. Be very afraid, the Conference is looming in about a decade if the owner is not stopped.
Another absolute kick in the teeth for real football fans. Wimbledon's owners ruined everything that was special about their club, and rumours are afoot that Spurs are to do the same by sharing with Arsenal.
Now Fulham will perhaps share with QPR but more likely Chelsea. Everything that was unique about the different London clubs and their special grounds is being lost.
Football is in trouble, and these 'business' moves are to blame. Support from the older generations is going to reduce dramatically, but businesses always have long-term plans and this generation won't be a concern to them, and that's the saddest thing.
Fulham should come to the new footballing capital of England - Milton Keynes. They can ground share with Wimbledon and lead the revolt of all London clubs out of the capital!
A ground share with Chelsea seems the obvoius solution, but can anyone honestly see Bates and Al Fayed not falling out all the time ?
Ground share with Brentford, at Lionel Road or somewhere else in west London. Ground sharing makes enormous sense financially.
How quickly it seems Fulham fans forget what Mr Al Fayed has done for their club. His judgement had seen them come from the lower leagues to become stable(ish) in the Premiership.
With all the financial problems facing Leeds and clubs that have fallen from the Premiership, I for one would have thought that they would applaud a decision that looks at the long-term financial future for their club.
There is a solution to all this rubbish. Form a proper supporters' trust and take back the power as fans, return to the bottom of the pyramid and form AFC Fulham, just as the Wimbledon fans did.
It's Wimbledon all over again. Prime Real Estate vs Football. 2-0 to the property speculators.
Al Fayed has stabbed every Fulham fan in the back. Duping us out of Craven Cottage on the promise of a multi-million pound development, only to backtrack in favour of a still unspecified alternative - no doubt an indefinite groundshare arrangement at the ghastly Loftus Road - is sadly indicative of a chairman with no honour, no morals and no shame.
Fulham FC and Craven Cottage are inextricably linked, and fans would be happy to return there under any circumstances. Sadly, as many have feared, it seems Al Fayed would rather sell the club and its fans up the river than keep the club beside it.
I think Mohamed Al Fayed should be applauded. He has spent enough money in strengthening the team over the past few years and has transformed a club with nothing into a team capable of holding its own in the Premiership.
If they were still generating revenue from European football this season, maybe it would have been a different decision today. The club need to have an identity, so hopefully they will sort out relocation in the near future, but by being frugal at the moment, when football is apparently in downturn, he can safeguard the future of Fulham.
Fulham need to go back to Craven Cottage to survive - pure and simple.
I implore Al Fayed to do the right thing and return the club to its home, otherwise he will lose the support of a fan of over 20 years.
As a Wimbledon fan I recognise where this is going. After WFC were allowed to move to Milton Keynes the football authorities said they would act to ensure that this could never happen again. Here is their first test.
How about Milton Keynes?
Fulham FC do not belong in the Premier League. Since Jack Walker's reign at Blackburn it has been proved that money cannot buy sucess in the English Premier League. Look at Middlesborough. Let's hope FFC go down to the First Division where they belong.
23 Dec 02 | Fulham
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