LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) – Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, has bought English Premier League Fulham from Mohamed Al Fayed.
“The transaction has been approved by the Barclays Premier League. Khan assumes 100 percent ownership of the club, debt-free, as of today,” said a statement on Friday issued by a spokesman for the new owner.
Khan, a billionaire car-parts manufacturer, bought out former Harrods owner Al Fayed, ending his 16-year spell in control of the London club. Fulham finished 12th in the league last season.
The 62-year-old Khan was born in Pakistan but moved to the United States at 16.
Last year the Jaguars signed a deal to play four games at Wembley Stadium over the next four years.
The Jaguars have struggled to fill their 67,000-seater home venue at times and are one of the NFL’s weaker franchises.
“Fulham is the perfect club at the perfect time for me,” Khan said. “I want to be clear, I do not view myself so much as the owner of Fulham but a custodian of the club on behalf of its fans.
“My priority is to ensure the club and Craven Cottage each have a viable and sustainable Premier League future that fans of present and future generations can be proud of.”
The British Telegraph newspaper reported the deal would net Al Fayed up to 200 million pounds ($302.35 million).
The Egyptian businessman bought Fulham for 6.25 million pounds in 1997 and has bankrolled their rise from the third tier to the top flight.
“Now a new era dawns,” Al Fayed said on the club website (www.fulhamfc.com).
“My time of serving as the custodian of Fulham Football Club would one day come to an end and I feel that time has now arrived.
“The time is right because I have found a very good man in Shahid Khan to accept the responsibility and privilege that I have enjoyed at Fulham since 1997.
“Fulham will be in very good hands with Shahid whose success in business and passion for sport is very evident. I ask everyone who loves Fulham and our Craven Cottage home to welcome Shahid as he begins his journey as the next guardian.” ($1 = 0.6615 British pounds) (Editing by Tony Jimenez)