The West London club is expected to announce imminently it’s overtaking from long-standing owner Mohamed Al-Fayad by US billionaire Shahid Khan in a deal worth a reported £150 million.
The 62-year-old car manufacturing mogul is ranked 491st on Forbes’ rich list and already owns American football outfit the Jacksonville Jaguars and is looking to expand into the English ‘soccer’ market.
At last valuation in 2012, the Pakistani-born American was worth an estimated fortune of $2.5 billion – of course that’s nothing compared to arch-rivals Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich who is worth $14.6 billion but it does surpass that of Al-Fayad’s $1.2 billion.
Could Fulham become the next mega-rich upstarts in the Premier League? Well, Fulham would still not be on a level playing field with Chelsea’s resources and certainly nowhere near Manchester City’s – City’s owner Sheikh Mansour supposedly has access to up to £1 trillion in his family’s oil funds – he is personally worth a mere £15 billion.
But, given that both Chelsea and City have gained access to the top four in English football to begin with and then have gone on to progress on to the Premier League title and, in Chelsea’s case European titles, there is certainly reason for optimism that an injection of more resources can work wonders for the club.
Abroad, clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and, more recently, AS Monaco are on the up and up as well as a handful of Russian outfits and it’s clear to see that these clubs are building projects that have the potential to dominate both domestic and continental competitions for the foreseeable future.
The old guard – the usual suspects – of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, and both Milan clubs may eventually find themselves unable to attract the best talent and subsequently may lose their hold on competitions like the Champions League. Fulham may well in the years to come be major contenders.
There are, of course, down sides to this new wave – the spiralling debt crisis, the pressure to succeed on the pitch, the complications of added commercial deals and partners and the depersonalization of the club that the fans know and love into something of a globalized brand and corporation.
If it wins trophies and buys top talent, however, I doubt there’ll be too many complaints emanating from Craven Cottage.
image: © Tom Cuppens