It is my privilege to welcome you to our first home match of the Sky Bet Championship season. I am happy to start my second year as Chairman with Felix Magath as our Manager, and I am very confident in the squad he has assembled. But above all, I am honoured to return to London and Craven Cottage, where I will do my best to serve Fulham supporters, who I believe are the finest fans in the game.
We saw the passion of the Fulham family last week at Ipswich Town. The number of supporters who made the trip was impressive and your voice was in midseason form. I know Felix and his men were very appreciative, as it’s important to get off to a good start - on the pitch as well as emotionally - if we are to achieve promotion back to the Premier League. We didn’t doubt your support this season, but in the first match of the year, on the road, there it was. That’s Fulham.
While we didn’t get the intended result last Saturday, the performance was encouraging. We had a lot of players - some of them youngsters - make their Fulham debuts, and they responded with excellent possession and kept fighting until the end. I anticipate that we will turn it up another notch this afternoon with scoring chances (and goals) against Millwall, a club we haven’t faced in a long time and undoubtedly will be at their best against a London rival. To our visitors from Millwall, congratulations on your win last weekend and welcome back to Craven Cottage.
The test we will face today versus Millwall will be intense and what we should expect every match, home or away, throughout the season in the Championship. It’s a different brand of football that over a 46-match schedule will require a Fulham team that is mentally tough, physically fit and completely committed to you and your club. It will be an adventure and a challenge. But, because we have Felix Magath, I believe in our chances.
I am also optimistic that we are drawing closer to the long-awaited development of the Riverside Stand. The Board of the Port of London Authority granted our Club a river works licence earlier this summer, representing a crucial step toward making this project a reality. There is still work to be done, but be assured this is a priority. With expanded capacity and additional premium offerings possible, a new Riverside Stand will improve our overall promise and financial sustainability for many seasons to come. And, because it would feature a Thames River walkway, it would improve the quality of life for the neighbourhood and general public for the first time in recent history. We will keep you updated and I thank you for supporting our long-term vision for Craven Cottage and Fulham Football Club.
Finally, I ask you to join me in saluting the legendary David “Diddy” Hamilton, who has been the voice of Craven Cottage for 18 seasons but a wonderful friend to Fulham Football Club for much, much longer. Today he will pass his microphone to Ivan Berry, join me in the Directors’ box for this afternoon’s match and thereafter enjoy Fulham at Craven Cottage with Season Tickets for life. Thank you, Diddy! You were the best.
And thank you, Fulham fans. You are also the best. Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman