By Ian Chadband
Mohamed Al Fayed today publicly aired his doubts for the first time about Fulham's prospects of ever returning to Craven Cottage - but ruled out the possibility of a ground-share with Chelsea as an alternative.
Speaking to Standard Sport, Fulham's multi-millionaire chairman revealed the extent of his frustration at the opposition of local residents to his redevelopment plans for Craven Cottage, saying he felt part of the problem was that some of them saw him as "this bloody Egyptian".
Al Fayed explained that the club, currently sharing QPR's ground at Loftus Road, were still looking at alternative sites as a "fallback" should the club be forced to abandon the Cottage plans, but he said: "It would have to be in west London. No way would we do a Wimbledon."
He also revealed that he and Chelsea chairman Ken Bates had "mentioned casually" the possibility of a ground-sharing arrangement at Stamford Bridge, but added: "There have never been any serious talks along these lines. There's too much history and rivalry."
Asked if his gut feeling was that the club would return to Craven Cottage, Al Fayed said: "It's all in God's hands. We hope so but we can't wait for 10 years for people to fight us. The fact that I own the club has a part to play. Some of those people think they are upper class and that this bloody Egyptian owns the club."
He added: "Now that we are beginning to build a stronger squad, we can look forward to a time when we will be kings of west London and Chelsea will be 'also-rans'."