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Jul 12, 2013

Al Fayed sells Fulham to Jaguars' Khan

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has agreed the purchase of Fulham FC from Mohamed Al Fayed.

• Fulham blog: Khan you believe it
• NFL blog: Sale hinders Jaguars move

A spokesman for Khan told The Associated Press on Friday that the deal to buy the London club from Mohamed Al Fayed had been completed.

According to widespread reports on Friday, a deal of between £150 million and £200 million ($226-$300 million) has been sanctioned by the Premier League.

"Fulham is the perfect club at the perfect time for me," Khan said in a statement. "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.

"We will manage the club's financial and operational affairs with prudence and care, with youth development and community programs as fundamentally important elements of Fulham's future."

Reports had emerged in recent days that Al Fayed was no longer willing to invest in the club and was in talks with Khan.

Khan, who bought the Jaguars in 2011 for a reported $760 million, is highly respected among his fellow NFL owners.

"[Al Fayed] is giving me the privilege and responsibility of serving as the next custodian of Fulham Football club," Khan said. "I am extremely honored to accept and want to thank him, on behalf of everyone who loves Fulham, for 16 years of exceptional service to the Club. Mr. Al Fayed rescued the club in its hour of need and has led it to a sustained place within the Premier League."

Khan would be the third current NFL owner to also own an EPL team. Malcolm Glazer owns both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United, and Stan Kroenke owns both the St. Louis Rams and Arsenal.

Randy Lerner, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns, owns Aston Villa.

The sale comes with Khan's Jaguars preparing to play NFL regular season games in London.

The Jaguars have a deal to play one home game in London for four consecutive seasons starting in October at Wembley Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has raised the possibility of the Jaguars playing two games a year in London.

Al Fayed, 84, took charge of Fulham in the summer of 1997, with the club then in the third tier, and invested heavily as he set about turning the Cottagers into, as he put it, "the Manchester United of the South".

Under his ownership, Fulham were promoted to the second tier in 1999 and the Premier League in 2001. They have remained in the top flight since that time, and in 2010 the club reached the final of the Europa League.

Al Fayed, who in 2010 sold London department store Harrods for a reported £1.5 billion, is believed to have invested £200 million during his 16-year ownership of the club.

"By his hard work, vision and determination, Shahid Khan has become a living embodiment of the American success story," Al Fayed said. "His achievements speak for themselves. I met him twice prior to our successful transaction this week and have been very favorably impressed."

Khan, who owns Flex-N-Gate Corporation, a leading American automotive supplier, moved to the U.S. from his native Pakistan as a 16-year-old in 1967.

Khan wrote in an email to Jaguars season-ticket holders that his plans for the Jaguars "are unaffected and unchanged."

"Fulham F.C. will operate as a fully stand-alone business from the Jaguars," Khan wrote. "Fulham and the Jaguars each have a great responsibility to the their players, fans, partners and communities, and both deservce nothing less than a 100 percent commitment from ownership.

Al Fayed is set to speak to the media about the sale on Saturday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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