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Cash-strapped Fulham have been bailed out to the tune of £16 million by a secretive offshore company as the Craven Cottage outfit attempts to plug a huge hole in its finances.

Despite being on course for a mid-table finish in the Premier League for a second successive season, the Cottagers – owned by Mohammed Al Fayed – have seen their fortunes deteriorate dramatically in recent times.

According to its latest set of accounts, Fulham made losses of £18m in the 2011-12 financial year – that’s almost 25% more than its £74m turnover.

It is understood the situation hasn’t improved during the last 12 months.

Al Fayed’s problems would appear to have been resolved in the short-term thanks to a loan brokered between the south London club and the little-known Vibrac Corporation, which is based in the British Virgin Islands.

But the details of the draconian financial arrangement brokered on 16 April and uncovered by SportsDirect News, are likely to raise eyebrows among supporters, not least because:

  • Fulham have been forced to take out a mortgage on all the properties the club owns, including Craven Cottage.
  • Vibrac Corporation have first call on the £50m Fulham will receive next season from the Premier League’s broadcasting deals.
  • In the event that Fulham default on a repayment, Vibrac Corporation have the right to appoint a receiver “without notice”.
  • Officials from the lender have been granted “free access. to inspect and take copies of, and extracts from, the books, accounts and financial records” of the club.

Fulham refused to comment on these reports when they were offered the opportunity to respond to the original story.

But a well-placed senior source, who worked at Fulham for several years and was a trusted confidante of Al-Fayed, revealed: “You don’t take out these kind of deals if everything is fine and dandy. These types of lenders are for emergencies only. You usually use them when all other options, such as your bankers, have been explored and declined.”