New Fulham owner Shahid Khan has raised the prospect of playing a pre-season friendly in Jacksonville to unveil the new scoreboards at the stadium of his NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Khan suggested that a Fulham game in July or August of 2014 when the $63m EverBank Field project is scheduled to be completed was a serious possibility. Synergy between his two sports clubs was a key theme of a Jacksonville press conference on Friday that introduced key Fulham figures to the American media.
“Absolutely, we want to do that,” Khan said. “What a statement that would be to the global audience. It would be phenomenal. To see the city in the background, the huge scoreboards, the North End renovation – it would show Jacksonville at its finest. If you look at the eyeballs on a typical Fulham game – there will be 300-400 million people watching. It really gives us a huge amount of upside.”
Khan confirmed that his two sides would be run separately, although the presidents of the Jaguars Mark Lamping will join Fulham’s board. Lamping confirmed:
“We’ll share our strengths and best practices when appropriate. In short, it’s business as usual. The fans each have great reason to be optimistic and collectively, we’re going to have a lot of fun. Shad’s full-time commitment to Fulham FC will raise our profile in London and will benefit the Jaguars and Jacksonville in ways we couldn’t have imagined as recently as a few months ago.”
Khan travelled to Craven Cottage last week but was unable to meet members of Fulham’s first team as they were already on a pre-season tour of Costa Rica. Hangeland and Jol were greeted by their new owner at the airport having flown from Costa Rica on one of Khan’s private jets.
Khan, Mackintosh and Jol have already begun discussions about how the new owner can supplement a squad that had finished twelfth in the Premier League last season after limited investment in recent years by outgoing chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed.
“To be middle of the pack, you need to be doing fairly well,” Khan said. “Being in the Premier League for 12 years is quite a statement so they’re well-established, they have great people and a great plan. We have to support them moving forward.”
Captain Hangeland added: “We’re very happy to have Mr. Khan on board. We know he can spend some money, which is exciting. But what’s important to me is that he appreciates the values of the Fulham Football Club, likes the way it’s run and wants to continue that as much as he can.”