Fulham and Michael Jackson – What Shahid Khan Got For His $300M

Beyond the bottomless bit of transfer rumors, there were two stories that gained traction over the past week in England.

It was a week of “if it wasn’t for these dam foreigners.”

The first story was the lack of opportunities for young English players in the Barclays Premier League and it was followed later in the week by the takeover of Fulham by Shahid Khan a Pakistani-born American billionairebusinessman.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 16: Owner Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches warmups before play against the Houston Texans September 16, 2012 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Houston won 27 – 7. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Khan bought the club from Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al Fayed so the number of clubs in the English top division under “English control” remains at eight of twenty but that didn’t seem to have made much of a difference to the headline writers.


JACKSONVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 16: Owner Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches warmups before play against the Houston Texans September 16, 2012 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Houston won 27 – 7. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The acquisition of another England club by an American brought the predictable responses of “they are taking our game over,” “this needs to  stop,” or my favorite “why is this happening.”

A cursory look at the facts is enough to tell you “why it is happening.”

Simply put the Premier League has shown itself to be recession proof through very tough economic times and with substantial revenue growth still possible.

Even some of the most cautious voices have changed their tune from “the escalation in TV rights fees cannot be sustained,” to “maybe it can.” It seemed at one point that domestic rights were peaking but the emergence of BT as a potential rival to Sky in the UK took domestic rights fees for the next three years to unprecedented levels.

At the same time other broadcasters around the world have been chomping at the bit to associate themselves with the Premier League. NBC’s successful bid for US rights being a great example.

And it is not only rights fees but kit deals; naming rights and merchandise are all hitting new highs each cycle. Other major soccer leagues in Europe are growing but none of them can match the Premier League. (Based on 2011/12 revenues the Premier League generated revenues 50% higher than its nearest rival the Bundesliga.)

When you combine revenue growth with a worldwide profile and global customers (fans) who exhibit some of the characteristics of junkies it really is a no brainer for any well-heeled (and I mean well-heeled) businessman.

Where else could you pick up a 5% share of a global brand for just $300M?

Actually, the surprise is that there are any English owners left.


The club was founded in 1879 and plays at Craven Cottage which is situated on the River Thames and has been home to Fulham since 1896.

Fulham has only spent 24 seasons in England’s top division with 13 of these coming since promotion to the Premier League in 2001.

Forbes reports that Shahid Khan has paid Mohamed Al Fayed $300M for Fulham F.C. Al Fayed bought the club in 1997 reportedly for $45M and since then it is estimated that he has invested $288M in loans that were converted mostly to equity last summer.


Khan now owns a club based in London (location, location, location?) and becomes one of 20 shareholders in the Premier League – a worldwide brand that has grown immeasurably during tough economic times.

With new Premier League television deals kicking in next season Fulham can expect to receive an additional $30M to $35M should they finish in a similar position to this past season.

The increase in revenue combined with the first tentative steps taken by the Premier League in March to control costs offers Khan the opportunity to mitigate the level of losses incurred by Al Fayed over his 16 years in control.

Even then, the average loss incurred by Al Fayed was “only” $20M per year which should be immaterial for a man whose net worth is $2.9B.

The one downside of owning a soccer team outside of North America is the constant specter of relegation to a lower division. At the end of each season the last three teams in the Premier League are demoted to the Championship and replaced with three teams coming the other way.

Although demoted teams are entitled to “parachute payments” to cushion the blow over four years should they fail to bounce back, the $90M they receive pales into insignificance compared to the riches that Premier League participation brings.

Stadium Development

The future of Craven Cottage as home to Fulham was a heated topic a decade ago when it discovered that Al Fayed had sold an option to build condominiums on the site to a property development company for $75M. After a messy court case no development took place.

This summer work will commence on an expansion to the Riverside stand that will add 4,300 seats to the stadium’s capacity taking it to 30,000.

The present structure will be partially demolished and   a new upper tier added to create more seats, a new hospitality space and a new roof. The plan also includes partial demolition and rebuild of the Putney and Hammersmith stands (any viewers of the boat race will recognize these names!). The cost of redevelopment has been put as high as $45M.


Turnover 2011/12: $119.3M (mid-table in Premier League revenue “table”)

Gate and match day revenue: $16.6M

Wage bill: £93.6M (mid-table)

Loss before tax: $27M


Premier League prize money (2012/13): $10.3M

TV and broadcasting revenue (2012/13): $58.6M

In combination Fulham was 12th in the Premier League prize money and TV revenue table last season.

Match Day Experience

Total home attendance (Premier League) – 482,486

Capacity – 25,700

Average attendance – 25,394

Largest crowd – 25,700

Smallest crowd – 24,087

Least expensive season ticket – $600 (19 home games)

Most expensive season ticket – $1,450

Least expensive match day ticket – $30

Most expensive match day ticket – $113

Program cost – $5.25

% of home games won – 37%

Average number of goals scored by Fulham at home in Premier League – 1.47

Kit Deal

A new sponsor for Fulham’s Adidas supplied kit was announced early last week with Marathonbet taking over from FxPro at the start of the 2013/14 season. The deal contains a one-year extension option beyond the conclusion of the 2014/15 season.

The deal was described as “lucrative” but no value has been given.


Fulham has never won a major trophy in its 134-year history. The closest the team has come was finishing as runners up to West Ham United in the 1975 FA Cup Final and losing to Atletico Madrid in the 2010 Europa League Final.

Premier League finishes since 2002 (20 team league) – 13th, 14th, 9th, 13th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 7th, 12th, 8th, 9th, 12th

Just seven current Premier League teams have enjoyed a longer consecutive spell but in 2008 Fulham’s tenure came ever so close to ending. Fulham won four of their final five games to edge ahead of Reading by a goal difference of just three goals after both teams finished with 36 points. At one point during the run-in Fulham was losing 2-0 away to Manchester City before rallying to a 3-2 win. That result set the stage for one of the Premier League’s great comebacks.

Players, Managers and Personalities

For a team that has spent most of its existence outside of England’s top division Fulham has a surprisingly strong connection with the England national team. Johnny Haynes captained England in the late 50s and early 60s and if it had not been for a terrible car crash Haynes might well have been a World Cup winner in 1966 alongside right back George Cohen.

Former England player and manager Bobby Robson played for Fulham and also spent an early part of his managerial career at Fulham.

Kevin Keegan helped Fulham rise through the leagues in the late 90s and left to become another ill-fated England manager. Current England Roy Hodgson traveled the same route albeit with stops at Liverpool and West Brom in between.

Other mangers who have managed Fulham and international sides include Chris Coleman and Mark Hughes (Wales) and Lawrie Sanchez (Northern Ireland).

Many clubs down the years have been described as a laughing stock but between 1959 and 1976 Fulham lived the label.

From 1959 to 1976 Fulham’s Chairman was a cheeky-chappy comedian Tommy Trinder.


For a number of years Fulham was a haven for players from the United States and understandably the club garnered a disproportionate amount of the support in North America. Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and Eddie Lewis joined Fulham prior to their ascent to the Premier League but it was the signing of Brian McBride that set a pattern of North American arrivals.

McBride became a Craven Cottage icon and captained the team during his time at Fulham from 2004 to 2008. A sports bar at Craven Cottage is named after him.

Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Kasey Keller and Eddie Johnson were to follow a path to the Cottage until Dempsey’s move last summer to Tottenham Hotspur cut the USA eligibility connection to the Fulham starting eleven.


For a reason that nobody except Al Fayed seems to understand, the former Fulham owner erected a $150,000 statue of Michael Jackson outside of Craven Cottage in 2011. It seems that Al Fayed expects the new owner to maintain his “legacy” although Shahid Khan sounded less than committed to maintaining perhaps the most inappropriate (and creepy) statue ever to be placed outside of a sporting arena.

A statue of his friend Michael Jackson unveile...

A statue of his friend Michael Jackson unveiled by Fulham’s Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed stands on its podium before their English Premier League football match at Craven Cottage, London, England, on April 3, 2011. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRKFOR E