Fulham are set to return to their historic Craven Cottage home next year.

The club are on the verge of partially redeveloping the ground they left last summer into a basic 18,000-seat stadium after running out of options for 2004-05.

They have ruled out sharing with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road – where they will again be based from August – for a third season because they would have to make costly improvements to get it up to Premiership standard.

Rugby team London Wasps also have a deal giving them first refusal on playing there from next year.

Fulham’s chances of moving in to Stamford Bridge with Chelsea also look slim because they are running out of time to get planning permission and have not heard from new owner Roman Abramovich.

A last-minute approach from the wealthy Russian would still be welcomed after groundshare talks with chairman Ken Bates collapsed in April but is unlikely to be at the top of Abramovich’s agenda. The possibility of a deal from 2005, however, remains and Fulham are thought to be viewing a return to Craven Cottage as a temporary measure because it is too small to generate sufficient income.

They have provisionally sold the site for housing and have received a £15million down-payment from a property developer that would need to be returned with interest if they went back on the deal.

But supporters will still be pleased with the prospect of a return to the ground the club first moved into in 1896.

They have been campaigning for a return to Craven Cottage since plans to redevelop it into a 30,000-seat stadium were abandoned as too expensive last December. Season ticket sales for next term are down in protest at the uncertainty.

Club chief executive Bruce Langham said: “We are still in the process of investigating alternative plans for Craven Cottage, along with searching for an alternative site within the borough.

“It’s only natural that the fans are concerned about the stadium situation. But at this time we all need to have a certain degree of patience.

“I thank the fans who have shown their support and commitment to the team by purchasing their season tickets already and I am hopeful we will be in a position to reward this.

“The only way to support the team properly is by coming to see them at Loftus Road. Staying away does not help in any way.”