Welcome to Craven Cottage for the final home match of the 2013/14 campaign. I wish I were greeting you under better circumstances, but the fact you’re reading this tells me you care deeply about Fulham Football Club and will support the Whites during good times and bad. Your loyalty is amazing.
Today brings to a close my first season as your Chairman in the Barclays Premier League. I’d like to begin these programme notes by simply stating that it will not be my last.
My goal is that a year from now, we’re celebrating our return to Premier League football. That’s not merely our hope. It is our goal. But real success will be in knowing that the appropriate groundwork on the football side of our operation will not only get us up, but keep us up. To that end, you have my word that Fulham will return to the Premier League not only as soon, but as smartly, as possible.
For that to happen, we will feature players who are committed to Fulham Football Club, who passionately care about the FFC badge and who will take personal and professional accountability in the welfare of the Club at every turn. To be clear, many of our players answered that call this season, and I thank them all. But, as our record suggests, compliance throughout the entire squad was severely lacking, and that’s simply unacceptable. We will be better in 2014/15.
And I have complete faith in Felix Magath to select and develop a squad that will meet this challenge. Felix will have significant responsibility, and he knows that my expectations - as well as yours - are demanding. I’m confident he will meet this challenge, because Felix made it clear to me in February that his commitment to Fulham was absolute. Whether we were to beat the drop, or not, Felix wanted to return in 2014/15 to show what he can do with a team in advance of and over the course of an entire season. He’s getting that opportunity, and I hope you’ll support him with all of your heart, because he’s a lot like you. Felix cares a great deal about Fulham.
And, let’s not forget, Fulham has a lot going for it. Our Academy, under the guidance of Huw Jennings, is admired and respected throughout football. While our Under-18s suffered a disappointing ending to a brilliant run earlier this week in the Second Leg of the FA Youth Cup Final, certainly the bigger story is the promise and potential in the young men who represent Fulham from our Academy. They have great talent and resolve, and their pride in playing for Fulham is evident and appreciated.
Off the pitch, the Riverside Stand project is progressing nicely behind the scenes and we hope to have something to discuss in the near future. And, your Club is financially sound. I’m personally committed to the long-term viability and sustainability of Fulham Football Club here at Craven Cottage, and that will not change.
We didn’t anticipate spending a great portion of this season near the bottom of the table, particularly considering our activity in the summer and winter transfer windows. We certainly would never have expected relegation.
Fulham has traditionally been a quiet but mighty squad that always finds a way to overcome the odds. We believed the same would hold true this season and I’m disappointed this wasn’t the case. All of us at Fulham Football Club apologise to you for falling short.
We do, however, now have an opportunity and obligation to reinvent our approach, a call to action that perhaps wouldn’t have been quite as evident had we remained up just above the relegation line. We have no false sense of comfort today that may have occurred had we finished in 16th or 17th place. It’s clear we need to fix this, and we will.
I want to thank you, our supporters, for everything you brought to the effort this year. Your unqualified support for the Club throughout a difficult season underlines why I was drawn to Fulham last summer. Your finest moments were late in the season, when we needed you the most. You rose to a very difficult occasion, especially last weekend at Stoke City. It cannot be said enough - thank you!
I wish you a healthy summer. May your favourite players and nations excel at the World Cup in Brazil, and then we’ll reunite shortly thereafter to open a new and promising chapter for Fulham Football Club.
Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman