Tag: Shahid Khan

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 08:  Fulham captain Ross McCormack in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Cardiff City and Fulham at Cardiff City Stadium on August 8, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

From new Florida shirt sponsor to new pro player, Fulhamerica is still a thing


Sometime earlier this decade, the death knell of Fulhamerica rang out in the American media. Gone from the English side were players like Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey, and that American Player in London vibe was left to Deuce at his new digs at White Hart Lane.

Maybe the American vibe never went away, but it’s blossoming again under owner Shahid “Shad” Khan. The Pakistani businessman bought the team in 2013, and there’s been a Fulhamerica revitalization under Khan (who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League).

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That’s increased with Fulham’s new shirt sponsor, and another pro player joining the club’s ranks.

With Emerson Hyndman making an impact for the club already at age 19, MLSSoccer.com reported today that 17-year-old San Diego attacking midfielder Luca de la Torre (above) has inked a professional contract with the club (He’s currently with the Fulham U-18s).

And the next time either of those players nets a goal for the Cottagers, you’ll see the Southern Sun beaming off their chests (in a sense, scroll down for image). Visit Florida is the new Fulham shirt sponsor, to the tune of “high six figures”.

In return, Visit Florida expects a lot of Londoners abroad. From The Sun Sentinel:

“I love Fulham and I love Florida, so naturally it brings me a lot of satisfaction to see two of my personal passions become one,” Khan, a supporter of Gov. Rick Scott, said in a prepared statement. “One of my stated goals has long been the expansion and development of Fulham as an international brand, particularly in the U.S. Visit Florida has a great tourism and leisure story to tell in the competitive London and UK market, and I don’t think there can be a better way of communicating all Florida has to offer than through the power and following of Fulham Football Club.”

The one-year deal, which Paul Phipps, Visit Florida’s chief marketing officer, said is “high six-figures,” is expected to generate a $3 return in Florida for each $1 spent.

“We think this sport ties into a very passionate fan base, and Florida can become the destination of choice,” Phipps said. “You have to find new and different ways to communicate your brand.”

That could be worth close to $200 million to Florida in tourism, Phipps says in the article. It’s little surprise that big American dollars would look into the value of Visit Malaysia’s deal with Cardiff City and similar deals.

Whether de la Torre becomes a force for Fulham or the USMNT — he also holds a Spanish passport — the returning Fulhamerica vibe is sure to bring back warm memories for many American fans. Now can it help bring back Premier League football to Craven Cottage?

source: Getty Images
CARDIFF, WALES – AUGUST 08: Fulham captain Ross McCormack (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

USMNT legend McBride, Jaguars president helping select Fulham manager

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars

Having suffered the ignominy of having had three managers in charge during one season of play, Fulham owner Shahid Khan is taking his time to make sure he gets things right this time around.

With Fulham mired near the bottom of the Championship standings, the next man-in-charge has to be an inspired selection after Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and Felix Magath held the position over the past year.

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American midfielder Emerson Hyndman is currently playing fairly regularly for the Cottagers, and a report says Khan has reached into the Fulhamerica files to help him sort out the position. Current caretaker manager Kit Symons considered a candidate.

From London24.com:

David Daly, Huw Jenkins, Brian McBride, Danny Murphy and Niall Quinn have all been named on the committee to review the contenders to take over at Craven Cottage.

All five committee members spoke last week with Khan, and all but McBride met in London within the past few days with Mark Lamping, the president of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League and a non executive director on the Fulham Board of Directors.

Khan met with Daly last month in London, and Khan and Lamping met with McBride during the summer at a United States men’s national team match in Jacksonville.

“I’ve got the right five men to help us find the right man for Fulham,” Khan said. “They each bring something similar, and yet unique, to the search.”

Khan says he’ll be the one to ultimately choose the manager, which is at least somewhat-obvious. Wonder if McBride could toss a name like Stabaek boss Bob Bradley into consideration?

Fulham add Ray Wilkins to coaching ranks

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Fulham has hired former manager Ray Wilkins as the Cottagers new assistant head coach.

“I am delighted that the chairman and the CEO have, again, backed my desire for further experience and support within the backroom staff,” manager Rene Meulensteen said.

“Retaining our status of being a Barclays Premier League club next season is vitally important to our long-term plans, and I know that Ray’s own experience and his knowledge of the game will be a vital component in our success.”

The acquisition of Wilkins is the latest high profile move that new owner Shahid Khan has made over the last two months.

First, Khan introduced Meulensteen as head coach under Martin Jol and, once Jol was fired, as manager.

Then last week the American businessman brought in former Charlton and West Ham manager Alan Curbishley as first team technical director. Now, he’s padded his staff of notable professionals even further by adding Wilkins, who managed the club between 1997 and 1998 when it was in the third tier.

The 57-year-old Wilkins began his managing career at QPR as a player-manager from 1994 and 1996 and later had spells as assistant manager at both Millwall and Chelsea, where he last coached until November 2010. Wilkins has since worked as a television pundit.

With Meulensteen, Curbishley and Wilkins now in tote, Khan will hope his side can turn around what has been a disappointing first half of the season. Despite notable talent throughout the squad, the Cottagers have failed to find their rhythm and currently sit 18th following the 6-0 hammering at Hull City.

Fulham will look to find their way out of the drop zone on Wednesday when they host West Ham United at 10:00am ET on NBC’s Live Extra.

Former Manchester United coach takes same title at Fulham

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Rene Meulensteen, who served as Head Coach under Sir Alex Ferguson for seven years, has been officially appointed to the same position under fellow Dutchman Martin Jol at Fulham.

Thought to be headed back to Qatar where he began his managerial career, Meulensteen was instead convinced by Fulham to join ranks with the Southwest London club which is toiling in the relegation zone.

He’s also recently been linked with open managerial jobs at Middlesborough and Crystal Palace.

The question becomes, is Meulensteen being lined up as Martin Jol’s replacement, or is the addition of a player motivator and tactical sidekick actually a move to back their current manager?

Martin Jol has been one of the favorites to be next up on the managerial chopping block in the Premier League, and as Fulham continues to struggle the pressure rises on new owner Shahid Khan to make some sort of decision.

However, don’t see this as the appointment of Jol’s successor just yet.  It’s quite possible that the move instead is a realization by Fulham that, despite Martin Jol’s tactical weaknesses on gameday, he has value in his connections and personality.  There’s a chance Meulensteen takes over the reigns for most of the operations on matchday, while Jol assumes more of a technical director’s role.

The two also have a history.  Rumors flew this summer that when Jol lost his first-team coach Ray Lewington to the England national team that Meulensteen was his first choice replacement. Instead Meulensteen went to Russia to manage at Anzhi Makhachkala.  That didn’t go so well, and Meulensteen was out in just 16 days as the owner found himself in financial shambles and the club looked to cut ties with everyone who had a decent salary.

It remains to be seen what will happen at Craven Cottage in the coming months.  Will Jol be out and Meulensteen the manager by Christmas? Or will Khan stick with his man and provide as much assistance to him as possible to get the club away from the bottom three?

It’s an intriguing move that initially raises more questions than it answers about the management status at Fulham, but time must be given to this side to respond to the new appointment.

Time defeats tradition as Fulham’s MJ statue comes down

Fulham v Blackpool - Premier League

Traditions become traditions the same way that people win dance marathons. Traditions simply outlast detractors. A tradition simply keep going, through all of the “that’s stupid” and “we should stop doing that” and “can’t we just find something new?” that everyone casts its way. Tradition’s aren’t necessarily SMARTER or BETTER than the fads that disappear. Traditions are just more stubborn.

I remember the first time I heard Kansas’ “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant. It is really kind of a creepy thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love it for the history and the passion it evokes, it’s absolutely one of my favorite things in college sports. But objectively, let’s be honest here, it’s a bit disturbing, you know, the way everyone does those yoga motions and moans “RAAAAAAAAACK … CHAWWWWWWWWWWK …. JAYYYYYY … HAWWWWWWWWK …. KAAYYYYYYY … YUUUUUUUUUUUUU.” If you saw and heard people doing that anywhere but a basketball game, you’d be convinced you walked in on a weird cult meeting.

But it has lasted. They’ve been chanting Rock Chalk Jayhawk since the 1880s. At no point through it all has one generation of kids said, “Naw, let’s try something else.” That’s what makes it a tradition. Conversely, a few years ago Kansas tried this other chant where they brought out a garbage can they called “The Sound Machine” and told fans to cheer when the lid was open and stop the instant the lid was closed. If I remember right, they called it “Kansas’ newest basketball tradition.” This game but absurd effort lasted exactly one game.

MORE: Michael Jackson statue set to be removed from Fulham FC

Was the Sound Machine any less viable a concept than Rock Chalk Jayhawk? Maybe, maybe not. But it did not come close to standing the tradition time test.

That’s really what’s happening. A tradition time test. A tradition survival of the fittest. Time is a harsh judge. When I was a kid, we used to attack each other with various insults based on “Welcome Back Kotter’s” classic “Up your nose with a rubber hose” banter. You know: In your ear with a chandelier. In your face with a a brown briefcase. Up your butt with a … we fully expected that stuff to last forever. Shockingly it did not. Time took one look at that bit of stupidity and said, “Um, let me just erase that nonsense from the world as soon as possible.”

Time defeated parachute pants. Time defeated golf knickers. Time defeated the tennis victor leaping over the net and baseball players leaving their gloves out in the field between innings. Time defeated people dressing up and wearing cool hats to sporting events. Time defeated barefooted kickers and long hook shots and high jumpers who tried to leap forward over the bar and the Macarena. Charlie Finley gave the Kansas City A’s a mule mascot named Charlie-O. Time stepped in. Bill Veeck tried to dress up the White Sox in shorts. Time stepped in. The Yankees used to play “Cotton Eyed Joe” at every seventh-inning stretch. Time stepped in.

But here’s the other side of time: Once something DOES defeat time, once it crosses that finish line and become a tradition — not unlike that cartoon bill becoming a law in “Schoolhouse Rocks” — it becomes pretty close to invulnerable. Take the Washington football team. They’re just sticking with the name. They know the history. They know the meaning. They know that Washington Hogs would be such an awesome name. Doesn’t matter. It’s a tradition. And like all traditions, once they’re in, they’re in. Traditions get “Favored nation” status. Time has been trying to wipe out the wave for decades … hasn’t done it yet.

All of which leads to this sad bit of news: They’re moving the Michael Jackson outside the stadium at Fulham of the Premier League.

I like Fulham. A few years ago, I asked Brilliant Readers to send in their suggestions for which Premier League team I should root for, and the Fulham fans were convincing. Fulham is the friendly team in London. While Tottenham and Arsenal rage at each other and Chelsea spends billions of dollars, Fulham just plugs happily along at Craven Cottage, the Wrigley Field of England, which is charming and old and right by the River Thames. Everyone has a good time. Fulham has never actually won a Premier League championship or any other major trophies, but they keep going, happy to be a part of things. optimistic that someday they’ll have their big moment, welcoming to all. They are the only Premier League team to have a section reserved for neutral fans who just want to enjoy themselves. Yes, I like Fulham a lot.

About two and a half years ago, they put this Michael Jackson statue outside Craven Cottage. It’s not a statue as you might imagine one would look outside a stately place like Craven Cottage — you know, made of white stone or dark bronze or whatever. No, really, it looks more like something you would see in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. It’s colorful and gaudy, MJ is holding a microphone and wearing one glove and tight pants and apparently is about to moonwalk.*

*Another tradition time defeated — we used to try and moonwalk all the time!

The statue is there because Fulham’s former chairman, Mohammed Al-Fayed, wanted it there. He was friends with Michael Jackson. He brought Michael Jackson to a Fulham game, I guess, or maybe even more than one, and the King of Pop had a good time or something. To be honest with you, I don’t see why this kind of madness doesn’t happen more in sports. If I spent hundreds of millions (or a billion) to buy a sports team, you better believe I would do all kind of crazy stuff like this. I’d put statues of Bugs Bunny and Duane Kuiper and Ric Flair at the entrance. I’d have them play “Badlands” twice every game. I’d have my baseball players wear those old wool uniforms and my basketball players wear those really short 1970s shorts every so often. The question to me is not how Bill Veeck or Charlie Finley ever got to own baseball teams. The question is why there haven’t been many more like them.

Anyway, Al-Fayed loved Michael Jackson, and he wanted to do something to honor his memory, and so he had this statue done and placed outside the stadium. It made no sense to anyone. I doubt that there’s a clash at any sports venue in the world quite like that ridiculous Michael Jackson statue outside charming old Craven Cottage. It would be like putting a giant Rubik’s Cube outside Fenway Park or a statue of a box of Jujubes outside Lambeau Field. It was patently ridiculous, and there was an uproar about it for a while … but that’s the amazing thing about being the owner. Nobody really could do anything about it. Al-Fayed wanted a Michael Jackson statue there. And so there was a Michael Jackson statue there.

This year, Al-Fayed sold the team to American automobile parts mogul Shahid Khan — who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars — and almost immediately questions about the statue came up. Khan, apparently, had no idea what kind of hailstorm he had entered. He seemed to be leaning toward taking it down. Al-Fayed said if Khan even tried it, he would personally come and shave off Khan’s somewhat famous mustache. Then there was some indecision. Some worry. Khan at one point talked about praying for answers. He seemed generally distraught about it all.

And here’s the thing: I was kind of rooting for the statue to stay. It’s not that I like the statue — I don’t. It’s not like I think it belongs — I don’t. But the way I figure it, if that statue could have lasted for even five more years, it had a real shot of becoming a tradition. And once that happened, it would have to stay. People would get used to it. More, they would unconsciously begin to accept it. And then, even people who DESPISE it would fight for it. It would be a tradition. For generations of kids, that weird Michael Jackson statue by one of England’s most cherished stadiums would not represent the King of Pop but instead it would be a symbol of Fulham soccer. It would come to represent not the Thriller video and Billie Jean and the 1980s and general strangeness but great goals and outings with family and spectacular victories and horrible defeats.

Alas, it is not to be. Apparently the statue is moving to one of Al-Fayed’s countless other properties. They got rid of it just in time, just before it started to stubbornly become a tradition. And so instead of becoming an odd but gradually beloved part of Fulham Football, it will instead be remembered as this extremely weird thing one of Fulham’s more eccentric chairmen did back around 2011 or 2012. And time wins again.