Fulham FC will return to Craven Cottage


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Bester Mann im Team

Fulham FC will return to Craven Cottage from the start of next season...

Fulham Football Club today announced that they will return to play at their Craven Cottage stadium from the start of next season.

Planning permission for a £5.4m refurbishment of the ground, bringing the capacity up to 22,000, was granted by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

Enabling works have already commenced on the building programme which is due for completion by the end of June next year.

The scheme will meet Premier League requirements by installing seating on the enclosure terraces in front of the Stevenage Road stand and at the Putney and Hammersmith ends of the ground.

So that all the new seating will be under cover, a new roof will be erected at the Putney end and the existing roof at the Hammersmith end will be extended.

The plan includes the provision of three 'pods' of Executive Hospitality boxes to be erected in three corners of the ground. The original floodlighting towers have been removed and more modern less-obtrusive lighting will be installed. The Cottage itself will remain.

The return to Craven Cottage is intended as an interim measure pending construction of a larger more commercially viable stadium elsewhere within the borough, consistent with the Club's long term football and business ambitions.

Fulham's chairman, Mohamed Al Fayed said: 'I am delighted to fulfil the dearest wish of our fans to take us home - albeit temporarily.

'Craven Cottage has a warm place in my heart. Its beautiful riverside setting gives it a special atmosphere and it is closely bound up with the history of this great club.'

Fulham moved out of Craven Cottage - its base for 105 years - in May 2002 so that the ground could be redeveloped into a 30,000 all-seater stadium. Arrangements were made to groundshare at Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road stadium for two seasons while the work was completed.

Plans to build the new stadium were initially delayed by legal action from a group of residents and later unforeseen technical difficulties rendered the redevelopment plan unworkable.

The club then turned its attention to buying a plot of land within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham for the purpose of building a new stadium. A suitable plot was identified at White City which the club is still actively trying to acquire to build an appropriate stadium together with modern leisure facilities (including a swimming pool) for the local community.

The club is grateful for the help and support it is receiving from Hammersmith and Fulham Council. The local authority is working closely with club officials to assist in finding the best solution for Fulham Football Club, the fans, and all the residents of the borough. The Council is prepared to consider all alternatives to keep the club in the borough and secure the appropriate site.

In the meantime the facilities at Loftus Road have proved inadequate for Premiership football without a major investment which resulted in the decision to apply for planning permission to return to Craven Cottage in the short-term.

Mr Al Fayed added: 'I know that the Cottage means a lot to our fans, many of whom are not keen on Loftus Road, and I have been working hard to find a solution to our short-term problems so that we could go back.

'Like all Fulham fans I was bitterly disappointed when our plans to build a state-of-the-art stadium on the Craven Cottage site became impossible to achieve.

'I still believe that if we are to fulfil our long-term dreams of making Fulham a major force in football we need a larger stadium than it is possible to erect at the Cottage and I continue to be entirely dedicated to working towards that end.

'But in the meantime it will be great to be back, if only for a few years'.

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