Shahid Khan thinks Fulham have what it takes to beat the drop after nine rollercoaster years

27 July 2022 0 By Total Football News

Nine years, EIGHT managers, three relegations, one Championship title and two play-off wins! It's been a rollercoaster but Fulham owner Shahid Khan is sure they now have what it takes to avoid drop

  • Shahid Khan has backed his club to avoid yet another Premier League relegation
  • Fulham have proven to be too good for the Championship with two promotions
  • However the Cottagers have failed to survive more than a season in the top flight
  • The west London club have also had eight managers in nine rollercoaster years 
  • Khan also owns NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars aside from the Cottagers
  • He has previously proposed Wembley become the NFL's home away from home  

Even for a man who made billions absorbing shock in the bumper business, Fulham has proved quite a ride for Shahid Khan.

His is an incredible rollercoaster of three relegations and three promotions under eight managers in nine years. ‘The highs and the lows are much more extreme than I would have thought,’ Khan smiles wryly from behind his trademark moustache.

‘The agony of relegation and the ecstasy of promotion. To me, you take life as it comes. Wishing and dreaming is good but reality and coping with it is more important. That’s what I’ve done all my life.’

Shahid Khan is confident his side can remain in the Premier League at the third opportunity

Back in the top flight for his 10th season, there is a quiet confidence inside the camp that this time around, after winning the Championship in a blaze of 106 goals, Fulham have what it takes to avoid the dreaded slide straight back from whence they came.

Manager Marco Silva appears to have evolved beyond the restlessness that defined his tenures at Watford and Everton, while Khan’s son Tony is maturing into his role at the head of the recruitment division.

‘I feel very optimistic about the season,’ agrees 72-year-old Khan Snr. ‘We have a stronger team and a manager who has coached Premier League teams. I really like Marco, he’s shown leadership.

‘We look for leadership. We look for stability. He’s done everything and more for the club and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

‘When I was in London, I talked to a few of the players one-on-one to get their sense, and it’s reassuring to me that they’re very optimistic. Our ambition is that we want to stay up.

‘Let’s be honest, that should be the goal. We’re a small club but we’re an ambitious club.’

Nothing typifies Khan’s ambition quite like Fulham’s new Riverside Stand, a triumph of design, extending the capacity of Craven Cottage by stepping out into the River Thames and enhancing the personality of one of English football’s most charming venues.

‘Fulham is blessed with great geography,’ said Khan, a Pakistani-American who made his fortune manufacturing bumpers for the US motor industry and bought the west London club from Mohamed Al Fayed in 2013.

‘It’s always what attracted me — and to see the Riverside Stand development is really thrilling. We are making an impact for a long time on the riverscape of London, and all the amenities will serve the community and give people an experience in London they’re not otherwise going to have.

Fulham have been relegated three times in nine years - most recently under Scott Parker in 2020-21

‘To be on the river and sample some of the delightful views of the city you get, which are unparalleled. Nothing like it exists right now. We’ve got the London Eye and maybe the Shard, but that’s like flying in a plane. Nothing sits on the river like we do.’

Seats in the lower tier of the stand will be available this season but work is continuing on the amenities inside, food courts, restaurants, rooftop terraces, a spa and a small hotel.

‘Our goal is that it will be completed by 2023,’ said Khan. ‘It’s an investment to serve the community and preserve the legacy of the club. It’s far better than even I conceived eight or nine years ago, when we were first thinking about it.

‘We talk about the development and other revenue streams. We’re creating all of that so we can invest more in the football team and try to move up the table.’

The Cottagers will return to the Premier League as triumphant winners of the Championship

The Cottagers will return to the Premier League as triumphant winners of the Championship

Khan has always had a habit of thinking big, as he did when he launched an audacious bid to buy Wembley Stadium from the FA in 2018.

He also owns Jacksonville Jaguars and proposed to transform the world famous venue into a permanent home for NFL in London while retaining it at the heart of English football, but opposition proved fierce in some quarters and he withdrew the offer.

‘It was win-win,’ insists Khan. ‘A lot of people looked at Wembley as a white elephant but I thought it made sense for us and the FA thought it made sense for them.

‘But then it really deteriorated into something of a hostile takeover. That was never the intention and you don’t want to do something like that under those circumstances. I look back and think it was the right thing to say, “OK, let’s call this thing off”.’

He doesn’t rule out reviving the idea and launching another bid for Wembley Stadium. ‘I might,’ admits Khan. ‘But there’s been no talk about that, we haven’t had any discussions.’

Marco Silva has top-flight experience, managed Watford and Everton with limited success

Marco Silva has top-flight experience, managed Watford and Everton with limited success

Instead, his Jaguars team will be back at Wembley to take on the Denver Broncos in October, with a fresh commitment to play three home fixtures there over the next three years.

‘We’ve embraced Wembley, it’s been good for us and it’s part of our identity,’ he says. ‘We love playing there. We look forward to returning to our London home and we look forward to continuing our journey at Wembley.’

Fulham’s season kicks off against Liverpool on August 6, Jaguars play Denver Broncos at Wembley on October 30.

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