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Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 08:13 GMT
Fulham deal is a 'precaution'
Craven Cottage
The clouds gather over Craven Cottage
Fulham have admitted a deal is in place to sell Craven Cottage in a 50m redevelopment deal that could see the historic stadium replaced by luxury flats.

But the club insist the agreement with Fulham River Projects Ltd (FRP) is a precautionary measure, which would only be invoked should their plans to redevelop Craven Cottage fail.

The Guardian newspaper claims to have seen contracts which reveal the ground will be sold to finance and development company FRP.

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed has already denied the claims, though he concedes there is no guarantee of Fulham returning to their former home in the future.

We have set up a structure which would make it possible for us to sell Craven Cottage if as a last resort

Mohamed Al Fayed

The Guardian claims the club has already received a down payment of 15m.

But the newspaper also quoted a club spokesman who backed Al Fayed's statement.

"This is a precautionary move in case we reach a point at which we have to sell Craven Cottage," he said.

"The chairman has not misled the fans.

"We are still actively pursuing an option to redevelop Craven Cottage in a more economical way and that is our genuine pursuit."

"I want to make it perfectly clear that Fulham Football Club have not, I repeat, not sold Craven Cottage," Al Fayed told the club's official website on Wednesday.

"The ground still belongs to us and will remain so."

The Guardian claimed that Fulham Stadium Ltd - which has owned the ground since 1985 - agreed to sell the Cottage to FRP on 18 September last year.

The club is currently playing at QPR's Loftus Road stadium, and hoped to return to a redeveloped all-seater Craven Cottage for the 2004-05 season.

But the redevelopment plans ran into controversy after the Fulham Alliance - a group of local residents around Craven Cottage - objected to the scheme, sparking a lengthy legal process.

I am deeply hurt by the abuse I have received from so-called supporters

Mohamed Al Fayed

The House of Lords ultimately rejected the Alliance's appeal, but the legal challenge forced the costs of redevelopment to spiral upwards of 100m.

Al Fayed said the club had raised 15m as part of a package of "precautionary measures".

"We have set up a structure which would make it possible for us to sell Craven Cottage if as a last resort we are forced to do so," said Al Fayed.

The chairman added that he was disappointed some fans felt he was to blame for the club's stadium troubles.

"I am deeply hurt by the abuse I have received from so-called supporters who seem so quickly to have forgotten the personal sacrifices I have made for this club," he said.

 VOTE RESULTS
Will Mohamed Al Fayed sell Craven Cottage?

Yes
 83.81% 

No
 16.18% 

11411 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

How bad could things become for Fulham if Craven Cottage has indeed been sold?
Fulham's worst fears


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See also:

23 Dec 02 | QPR
23 Dec 02 | Fulham
16 Dec 02 | Fulham
18 Nov 02 | Fulham
12 Nov 02 | Fulham
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