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Fulham Ladies to go part-time

last updated Friday 10th January 2003, 9:50 AM
Fulham are to change their full-time professional women's team to semi-professional at the end of the season after a three-year commitment in which the chairman Mohamed Al Fayed is believed to have invested £5m.

The players were informed of the decision yesterday and after May will continue on a semi-professional basis.

"The chairman was given a lot of encouragement from the FA, and the ex-chief executive Adam Crozier in particular, that the FA were committed to setting up a professional women's league in Britain. It's now clear that he hasn't got support for that," said a spokesman.

When Al Fayed returned from the 1999 women's World Cup in the United States, where 76,489 attended the final, he decided he would like to recreate the phenomenon in Britain. Crozier had had similar thoughts and when the FA announced its intention to launch a professional women's league by 2003, Al Fayed immediately made the funds available.

But the past year has seen the FA retreat from its declaration. In August it said that by the word "professionalism" it had meant many things, including "a professional attitude" and "professional administrators".

Chairman Al Fayed said: "In the three years that Fulham Ladies have been professional, no steps have been taken by the Football Association to enable the game to progress on a domestic level.

"The mediocre advances in women's football during this period have made it impossible. I have invested millions of pounds into Fulham and the priority for me is to focus on the core business of Premier League football."

Harrods owner Al Fayed knows further funding will be needed to keep Tigana's team at the top but he wants to change the culture which brought record losses of £24m two years ago.
Source The Guardian by Paula Cocozza
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