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Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed loves Cottagers

last updated Monday 08th April 2002, 9:51 AM
Fulham chairman Mohamed Fayed is promising to carry on pumping millions of pounds into the club even if they go down. He has spent more than £31 million in the transfer market in the last nine months but Fulham have struggled in the Premiership and are only three points above the relegation zone.

They are five places off the bottom of the table with five games remaining, including tonight's match at Newcastle, who are chasing a Champions League place.

The cost of going down could be more than £8m and life in Division One would be especially tough as Fulham are spending £70m redeveloping Craven Cottage and will play at Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road stadium next season while work takes place.

  Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed  
  Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed says he loves Fulham and will keep spending to make the club the biggest in the land  
Mohamed Al Fayed
There has been speculation that Fayed would want to cut his losses if the club was relegated and suggestions that if he stays he will soon get bored of his football business and sell.

But the Harrods owner said today: "I bought Fulham because I love the club. It is mine for life. I intend to hand it to my children.

"I will continue to fund the club to the level required to realise my dream and the supporters' dream of making it one of the best in the world.

"Relegation is not in my thinking. You can expect us to enter the transfer market in the close season to strengthen the squad.

"We can only get better. We have learned a lot this season and will improve even more as time goes on. When we have built the new stadium we will have a home for our devoted fans and a base from which to grow.

" We must be patient. Nobody knew how we would perform in the Premiership. Now we have learned valuable lessons we are in a position to accelerate our development.

"I still want to make Fulham the Manchester United of the south. Maybe one day we will be bigger and better."

Fulham's prospects for Premiership survival are reasonable even though they have lost seven of their last eight games. The form and fixtures of the teams in the drop zone makes them unlikely to catch Fayed's team.

Bottom-placed Leicester were relegated on Saturday and Derby, who have to play Newcastle, Liverpool and Leeds, and Ipswich, who have to meet Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, are set to suffer the same fate.

Fulham manager Jean Tigana believes his team need five more points to be safe with home games against Bolton and Leicester still to play this month and he knows he has the full backing of his chairman.

Fayed added: "It has been tough but I didn't expect it to be easy. We knew it would take the players some time to adjust.

"Everybody says we play, attractive, creative football but we must find the secret of how to capitalise on that.

"I am satisfied with the players we have brought to the club this season and reaching the FA Cup semifinal is a big achievement. Tigana works harder than anyone. He has managed to improve several players from First Division to Premiership standard.

"He has been very unlucky in the transfer market. He wants a particular type of player in key positions and those players have just not been available this season."

Players such as defenders Rufus Brevett and Andy Melville have improved under Tigana's tutelage but the manager's attempts to recruit a big striker with a proven scoring record have failed.
Source Evening Standard by Leo Spall
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