To all supporters of Fulham Football Club, whether you’re with us today for our final match of the season against Bolton Wanderers or reading these notes elsewhere, I want to offer my sincere appreciation for hanging in with us through what has undoubtedly been a disappointing campaign for everyone within and outside the Club.
I know my thoughts are shared by everyone at Motspur Park, and all of us wish we were bidding farewell to the season on a much more upbeat note. We can still do that with three points this afternoon, and in that respect I do look forward to our final match of the term.
Nonetheless, I cannot deny that the 2015/16 season wasn’t at all what we expected, certainly not what we wanted and far from what you deserve. I’m sorry that the results haven’t been better - much better - and that you haven’t left Craven Cottage more frequently with the joy that comes with winning or at least putting up a good fight. I do believe we have many players who gave you everything they had and I’m positive we have the right man to lead Fulham in Slaviša Jokanović.
But our place in the table speaks for itself. We must improve. And so, we will. And that’s not only my mandate, but Slaviša’s as well. I have a weekly call at a minimum with Slaviša and have been in London frequently since he was appointed in late December, and I find his approach to be refreshing, pointed and focused as to what’s required to restore Fulham’s place in the top flight. To be candid, I’ve been willing the conclusion of the season to come as fast as possible so Slaviša may begin implementing his plan. With the benefit of 22 matches on the sidelines for Fulham, plus his time with the First Team in training and his work during the recent transfer window in January, Slaviša knows what he has and what he needs.
With that, I want to assure you that all efforts will be made to field a side next season that will start fast, remain strong and compete for promotion. And with the prospect of Aston Villa and at least one other Premier League mainstay coming to the Sky Bet Championship in Sunderland or Newcastle United, the battle for promotion next season will be extremely fierce. My pledge to you is we’ll be up to the task.
Off the pitch, we’ve fared much better, particularly of late. Our service-first spirit at Fulham was recognised twice in the past few weeks, first with the prestige of being named the Nickelodeon Family Club of the Year at The Football League Awards last month and then earning honours for the top digital reach among the Championship for our excellent work on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. And, not to be overlooked, was the spectacular evening staged last week by our staff to celebrate the legacy of George Cohen and to launch the campaign to honour him with a statue here at Craven Cottage and back his mission to support those with dementia. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to go to fulhamfc.com to see the photo gallery of what was a first-class affair, not only for Fulham, but for the entire footballing world.
I’m proud of these accomplishments on the business side, but what matters most - by far - is the football. In the end, it’s all that matters. It’s everything to me and I expect everyone in a position of responsibility at Fulham to see it the same way. The standards we expect on the pitch and the long-term ambition we have as a club have been completely disproportionate to our performances and position in the table over the past several seasons. We’re 100 per cent committed to correcting our course. And promotion has 100 per cent of my attention.
Now, let’s close this chapter and start a new one. But first, I must take a moment to again hail our supporters and, in particular, our Season Ticket Holders and the thousands of fans who have made trips to support the Whites on the road. You never fail us. We all thank you and hope you’ll be back. Our staff, as always, are ready and eager to serve you. And to our sponsors and hospitality clients, please know that we deeply appreciate your partnership as well.
Finally, a word on the Riverside Stand project and our announcement a few weeks ago that I’ve personally commissioned Thomas Heatherwick to advise on the redevelopment. Thomas has impressively built Heatherwick Studio into one of the world’s premier design studios, but he didn’t do that through clever marketing or a brilliant website (though heatherwick.com is extremely cool). It’s because Thomas and his colleagues simply produce the most creative and often unimaginable work there is in the industry.
The Riverside Stand project has required patience and diligence, and rightfully so. This is about London, the Thames, Fulham Football Club, Craven Cottage, Bishop’s Park, the neighbourhood and the best fans in all of England. It’s much more than merely renovating stands for spectators. It’s going to take time, and with that time comes additional deliberation and the opportunity to further explore what’s possible and - ultimately - what’s right for FFC. This brought us to Heatherwick Studio and we continue to work with Thomas as we draw closer to better understanding our options.
But there are two things you can be guaranteed of in our new partnership with Thomas and his team. One, bringing Thomas to the project hasn’t, nor will it, affect the timeline. It won’t accelerate it, nor will it slow us down. Thomas being involved simply makes the process a better one, and that’s what’s most important. And two, Thomas will see this project differently than anyone I could ever imagine bringing on board, and that’s good news for everyone who loves our Club and our home ground. Thomas has a vision and he’s a visionary. That’s what and who we want at Fulham.
It will be fun to see all of this unfold in the months ahead and I’ll update you as often as appropriate. I want you to be informed. And I thank you for your patience and understanding as we carefully but purposefully explore the right path for the project and the Club. Again, my thanks to you. You’re the best. And now, let’s finish the season with a W this afternoon.
Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman