A new story in the Daily Mirror claims that Mohamed Al Fayed is ready to sell the club. It even goes so far as to suggest that notable football fixer Keith Harris has been brought in to do so. If he was going to sell, now would be a good time. The club is in the Premier League in a season where the money paid out to teams is at a record high. He recently wrote off the club's debt, meaning any new owner isn't responsible for anything when they come in. If reports are to be believed, the value of the team (£200M) would be about the equivalent of everything he's spent over his tenure. He wouldn't be making a profit, but getting to run a club for 16 years; with 11 in the top flight has got to be worth something.
Of course, this all could be a rumor. It was just over a year ago that Karim Al Fayed was appointed vice chairman. That move seemed to suggest that it was in the long term interest to keep Fulham in the family and slowly move Karim into the role of chairman. I haven't heard of anything changing, but of course anything is possible.
If the team was really going to be sold, I would think that they would want to accomplish it as soon as possible. If Fulham were to have a band season or to possibly even be relegated, the value of the team would drop immensely. It will be interesting to see if there are any more leaks, or if the team comes out and denies this quickly. So far, it's all no comment.
From my perspective, Al Fayed has been a great owner. Without his investment in the club I would be a fan of another team today. But he is 84 years old, and if his son doesn't want to run the team full time; or even worse if he's afraid there might be a family squabble for control after his death; selling now might be for the best. I'm sure there are still plenty of rich people out there who'd love to own the club.
However, it will be interesting to see if the new premier league rules for fair play along with UEFA's FFP rules change the kind of person who buys a team. If a super rich man can't buy titles, does he still want to buy his way in? Or is just being at the table an ego boost enough to make him buy into the elite club of team owners? This might be the first major sale of a club since the rules have been implemented, and some of those questions could get answered soon.
I've seen both bad owners and great owners in my time as a sports fan (living in Seattle, it's been more bad than good), and Al Fayed is clearly one of the better owners I've seen. Anytime you switch, there's always a chance you get stuck with a bad one. That being said, he can't stay forever. I'm hearing chatter that Shahid Khan might be a possible buyer. It makes sense given that it's rumored his long term plans are to bring his NFL team to London at well. But again, these are just internet rumors at this point. What does everyone else think?