Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has agreed to buy Fulham from Mohamed Al Fayed, per Sky Sports:
Sky Sources: Owner of NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars Shahid Khan agrees deal to buy Fulham. More on #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 12, 2013
Associated Press reporter Rob Harris had the following from Khan and Al Fayed after the sale:
New Fulham owner Shad Khan: "Mr Al Fayed rescued the club in its hour of need and has led it to a sustained place within the Premier League"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) July 12, 2013
Al Fayed: "By his hard work, vision and determination, Shahid Khan has become a living embodiment of the American success story"— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) July 12, 2013
This represents a hefty windfall for Al Fayed, who bought the club for £6.25 million in 1997, per The Guardian's James Riach. Ben Rumsby of the The Daily Telegraph reported that Al Fayed will get a profit of £150-£200 million from the deal:
The sale, which has been sanctioned by the Premier League, is said to have netted Al Fayed in the region of £150-£200 million, a similar figure to that he loaned the Cottagers since buying the club in 1997.
With an estimated fortune of £1.7 billion, Khan is thought to be twice as wealthy as Al Fayed, who made Fulham a more attractive proposition to potential buyers in January by converting his loans into equity, virtually wiping out their debt.
Khan released a statement on Fulham's official site. It read in part:
Fulham is the perfect club at the perfect time for me. 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. We will manage the club’s financial and operational affairs with prudence and care, with youth development and community programs as fundamentally important elements of Fulham’s future.
The club's new owner was also given a warm welcome by his new team on Saturday, and he gave some happy comments on the team's future, per the team's official Twitter feed.
Khan was also given a warm welcome to the club by outgoing owner Mohamed Al Fayed, who had some fun with the Jaguars' owner's unique appearance (picture courtesy of 101greatgoals.com):
There's no doubt that Khan, who's made his fortune in automobile parts manufacturing, has the finances to continue propelling Fulham forward. Forbes has his net worth standing at a robust $2.9 billion. These days, you need a rich owner if you're going to get ahead in the Premier League, so Fulham supporters should be encouraged by this move.
As a Fulham supporter, do you worry about Khan owning two teams at once?
During Al Fayed's tenure, the London-based club made some big steps, culminating with a run to the Europa League final in 2010. Fulham have become pretty safe with their place in the league table, despite finishing 12th last season.
It will be interesting to see if Khan can take the club beyond its current standing as a more mid-table club.
Sports Illustrated's Brian Straus brings up what is also a very pressing question, perhaps for much different reasons.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this deal is what will happen to the Jaguars, who will be playing the San Francisco 49ers in London on Oct. 27.
Will the Jacksonville Jaguars move to London in the future?
The NFL has tried to expand into the overseas market, and it has been postulated that the Jaguars would make a good fit as the team to make the permanent move to the United Kingdom. Having an owner already with preexisting ties in the city would make that transition smoother.
In the present, Khan will have his work cut out for him if he's to prove that owning two franchises will not be a hindrance to either franchise's progress. It hasn't stopped the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal from continuing to be successful, but Khan's image and ownership could take a hit if Fulham struggle.