After 16 years as the custodian of Fulham Football Club, Mohammed Al Fayed has passed its care on to Pakistani-born American billionaire Shahid Khan. With the club run on a shoe-string budget – by Premier League standards – in recent years, the change couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Cottagers placed 15th in the Premier League spenders’ table last summer, with £7m paving the way for Dimitar Berbatov and Kieran Richardson to join the club and there must be a high likelihood that they will eclipse that total before the current window closes.
Even in their more cash-strapped recent guise Fulham were ready to cross FC Twente’s palms with £10m for frustratingly mercurial Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz and Ladbrokes offer 5/4 on the West London outfit breaking their £11.5m transfer record before the fax machines go silent for the autumn signing embargo.
The firm also offer a 25/1 about the Cottagers outspending all 19 of their Premier League rivals in the current window. The last two summers have Man City (2011) and Chelsea (2012) the leading cash-splashers, with outlays of £63.6m and £88.3m respectively, but whilst Fulham arguably need a few new bodies just to keep them ticking over, the car-parts mogul has moved to scotch talk of a heedless spending spree in the manner of West London rivals QPR’s 2012 splurge.
Odds of 33/1 about Fulham surpassing their previous best Premier League finish of seventh in 2008/09 by landing a top six berth in 2013/14 look somewhat more attractive given the meteoric rise of Manchester City and Chelsea after their acquisition by super rich owners.
Khan is perhaps not quite in the uber-minted class of Messrs Mansour or Abramovich, but Liverpool and Aston Villa also saw regular European qualification in their initial years under American ownership and investment from the Jacksonville Jaguars owner could enable the Cottagers to follow suit.
As Man City failed to crack the top four in their first full season as billionaires, odds of 250/1 reflect this being a far less likely eventuality.
Despite the expectation that the club will move quickly to invest to improve the squad available to Martin Jol, Ladbrokes remain an industry-lowest 4/1 on Fulham being relegated.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the time of publication