News tonight of two developments in the world of English soccer. First in London with this statement from Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods and for the past sixteen years, owner of a leading football club:-
“My time of serving as the custodian of Fulham Football Club would one day come to an end, and I feel that time has now arrived”.
The Club which has a ground alongside the River Thames at Putney, Craven Cottage, has been sold to Shahid Khan, Chief Executive of Flex-N-Gate Group and owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League in the United States. The transaction has been approved by the Barclays Premier League. Khan assumes 100 per cent ownership of the club, debt-free, as of today. In a statement to AP, Khan said his priority was to ensure the club & Craven Cottage each have a viable and sustainable Premiership League future.
Meanwhile the Dons Trust, owners of League 2 side AFC Wimbledon, have expressed concern about recent developments at Coventry City FC. Chair of the Trust, Matt Breach, said that Coventry’s move to ground-share at Northampton Town “could be extremely dangerous for football”. The Football League has permitted the would-be owners of Coventry City to move the Club to Northampton for three years, citing Wimbledon’s previous move to Selhurst Park in 1991 as a precedent.
Matt Breach said:-
“In 1992, the then owners of Wimbledon Football Club were given permission to move the Club, supposedly temporarily, to Crystal Palace FC’s Selhurst Park. This was meant to be a ground share which would end with a new stadium in our home borough. But this move and the lack of proper oversight by the football authorities fostered the conditions for the stealing of our Club and its permanent removal to Milton Keynes. We’re extremely worried that in agreeing to this move, the Football League has not thought out the potential consequences, which could be catastrophic for Coventry City and its fans and community, but also could be extremely dangerous for football as a whole.”
Talking about the achievements of AFC Wimbledon under fan ownership, Matt added:-
“That we’re only now realistically seeking a return to Plough Lane, where our own demise commenced, shows just how long it can take to reconnect and rebuild those links. Although we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved under fan ownership we need to be honest and say that the cause was a failure by the football authorities to police the game properly”, he said.
There have been more twists in the saga, as Sky Blues fan Robin Sheeran pointed out to me. The latest twist is set out in the Coventry Telegraph: “Ricoh Arena to sue Northampton Town if it hosts Coventry City ‘home’ matches“.