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Fulham have made their first profit since Mohamed Al Fayed bought the club in 1997.

The club are expected to show a £508,259 pre-tax profit on a turnover of £39.1million when, later this week, they reveal their financial results for the year ending June 30, 2004.

The main reason they sneaked into the black was because of the sale of striker Louis Saha to Manchester United for £12.8m in January 2004.

It helped turn around a loss of £20.8m in the 2002-03 season.

However, Fulham are not expected to make another profit this season because they are languishing fifth from bottom of the Premiership, hence a reduction in merit payments, and television revenue is likely to be about 20 per cent lower.

Fulham have some way to go to be self-financing. The operating loss last season was £8.8m, although it is a vast improvement on the 2002-3 season, when the club reported a £33.6m pre-tax loss and an operating deficit of £32.7m.

Ultimately, the club still benefit from the largesse of Harrods owner Fayed, whose investment in the club stands at £140m.

Although he is the 81st richest person in Britain with a personal fortune estimated at £470m, according to the recent Sunday Times rich list, Fayed long ago signalled the end of profligate spending at the club.

Yet the wage bill, which stands at £32m, 75 per cent of turnover, still needs to fall.