Welcome to Craven Cottage! To the Fulham faithful and also to our visitors from Brighton & Hove Albion, I sincerely hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and quality time with your loved ones. And here in SW6, as we continue to celebrate the holiday season, we also have news to share and celebrate - the appointment of Mike Rigg as Chief Football Officer of Fulham Football Club.
Mike comes to Fulham from the Football Association, where he served quietly but effectively as Head of Talent Identification. Over the past several weeks, Mike emerged as a strong contender to fill this important role and, after meeting him, I personally put him at the top of my list as I considered a number of worthy candidates. I’m thrilled that Mike accepted the opportunity and challenge to join Fulham and trust you will welcome him warmly and enthusiastically!
Let me share with you some thoughts as to why Mike is with us today. Several months ago, as you know, I commissioned a search committee to bring forth and screen candidates to earn the position of our First Team Manager. I appointed Kit Symons as a result of that effort and am very pleased with that decision. You must be as well. Based on my experience over the past 17 months and through the most recent managerial search, it became clear to me that the new Fulham Manager - in fact, the entire football operation - would benefit from someone whose sole responsibility was to focus on the short, mid and long-term product on the pitch. And, in my mind, that called for a head of all football activities that would report directly to me but work collaboratively with Kit, our scouting group, the Academy, sports performance, medical and our analytics team. This wasn’t a revelation, but rather the recognition that the challenges football clubs face today are more complex than ever and our ambition requires that we organise in the optimal way to achieve our goals.
But we were not interested in accelerating this organisational shift for Fulham until, or unless, we found the right person. And we have in Mike Rigg. Since 2001, when he led the academy at Sheffield Wednesday, Mike’s ascension in the game of football has been noteworthy. Following four seasons at Wednesday, Mike earned the roles of chief scout at Blackburn Rovers, head of player acquisition at Manchester City and technical director at Queens Park Rangers before landing at the FA in 2013. As you can see, Mike will bring a very representative and well informed point of view to Fulham.
Huw Jennings’ position as our Academy Director is not only unchanged, but his future and importance to us is strong as ever. I’ve said in the past, but will repeat today, that player development will be at the core of our foundation at Fulham as we build a Club system that grooms youngsters while creating and stocking a pipeline of talent into our First Team operation under Kit. Mike will rely heavily on Huw, who is the best there is. With that, there’s no doubt in my mind that the football side of the Club has never been stronger or will ever have more promise than we see today.
This reorganisation will also permit our CEO, Alistair Mackintosh, to train his efforts on matters that are immensely important to the present and future of Fulham Football Club. To be sustainable we must ensure that Craven Cottage and our training facilities are world class. The renovation and reinvention of the Riverside Stand is a signature and historic project for your Club, and it requires expert leadership to see it through. Alistair has my complete trust and confidence to oversee this initiative as well as other critically important endeavours, including the potential expansion of our Motspur Park training site.
These projects along with growing the Fulham brand through our commercial efforts will support our goal to ensure that we remain - and always will be - a stable and successful Club. Alistair, as well as Mike, are most deserving of their assignments and the support of everyone who loves Fulham Football Club. Please join me in congratulating Mike and Alistair, two men who share my vision for Fulham, both today and tomorrow. The best is definitely still to come. Happy New Year to one and all. Now, let’s get three points this evening.
Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman