LONDON – Mohamed Al Fayed has sold Fulham Football Club to Shahid Khan, the CEO 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. A formal announcement is scheduled at Craven Cottage on Saturday at 1 p.m. London time.
"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," Al Fayed said. "The time is right because I have found a very good man in Shahid Khan to accept the responsibility and privilege that I have enjoyed at Fulham since 1997. Fulham will be in very good hands with Shahid, whose success in business and passion for sport is very evident. I ask everyone who loves Fulham and our Craven Cottage home to welcome Shahid as he begins his journey as the next guardian of Fulham Football Club."
Khan added: "I was recently very fortunate to have been introduced to Mohamed Al Fayed, a man I respect and admire immensely for what he has accomplished in his life and – above all – what he has given others. Today, he is giving me the privilege and responsibility of serving as the next custodian of Fulham Football Club. I am extremely honoured to accept and want to thank him, on behalf of everyone who loves Fulham, for 16 years of exceptional service to the Club. Mr Al Fayed rescued the club in its hour of need and has led it to a sustained place within the Premier League.
"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."
Khan is president and owner of Flex-N-Gate Corporation, the 14th-largest North American automotive supplier. Flex-N-Gate's products include interior and exterior plastics, lighting systems, mechanical assemblies, metal structural body components, and exterior metal parts.
In December 2011, Khan's agreement to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars was unanimously approved by the NFL, making him the first minority team owner in league history. Khan's personable approach, enthusiasm and bold vision for the Jaguars have since made him a popular figure in Jacksonville and throughout the NFL.
In 1967, at the age of 16, Khan left his native Pakistan for the United States and opportunity to study engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He began working for Flex-N-Gate in 1970, while still an engineering student.
Following his graduation from the University of Illinois in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, Khan continued to work at Flex-N-Gate until 1978, when he left the company to start a new venture in designing and manufacturing innovative lightweight, continuous metal bumper systems, with no seams to corrode or rust. Today, nearly two-thirds of all North American pick-up trucks and sport utilities have bumper systems based on Khan's designs and are manufactured and supplied by a Flex-N-Gate company.
Khan returned to purchase Flex-N-Gate in 1980, building it into a global leader that today employs more than 16,000 people at 52 manufacturing and nine product development and engineering facilities throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Spain.
A full statement from Mohamed Al Fayed follows:
"It has been a pleasure and privilege to be the Chairman of Fulham Football Club for 16 memorable years. I am now delighted to be passing this great and historic Club into the care and stewardship of an outstanding man who has already achieved much in his life and will, I am sure, take Fulham on to even greater things.
By his hard work, vision and determination, Shahid Khan has become a living embodiment of the American success story. His achievements speak for themselves. I met him twice prior to our successful transaction this week and have been very favourably impressed.
I pay tribute to the way in which he has already, while still young, made his mark in the world. For my part, I am glad to be placing my precious Club into such good hands. I have loved every minute of my 16 years at the helm of the London club that was established in 1879, before all the other great clubs in the Capital.
We have had some great times, down by the Thames. There have been notable successes, as champions of League One and winners of the Championship.
We have had some memorable times in Europe. Fulham vs Juventus was probably the greatest game ever seen at Craven Cottage and the sight of the Fulham faithful filling their end of the Elbe Arena in Hamburg, at the UEFA Europa League final will be with me forever.
But now is the right time for me to retire and spend time playing football with my grandchildren. I am sad but proud of our achievements. I am very grateful to Fulham's fans, the most incredible fans in the world. They have given me their support and affection whenever they have seen me at home games. I would never let them down. I have passed the Club to a talented, honest and highly capable man who respects Fulham and its traditions. He is a great sportsman.
Fulham is now embarking upon its 13th season in the Premier League. I bid farewell comforted by the knowledge that Fulham is a very well-run Club that has never been in better shape.
I shall look to Shahid Khan to build on the success of the 16 seasons and to deliver the greater glory that the fans desire and deserve. I look forward to seeing you down at the Cottage where I shall return, on occasion, to cheer on the team.
Now a new era dawns."