Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Share Options; Crisis Will Force Clubs to Move in Together

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Share Options; Crisis Will Force Clubs to Move in Together

Article excerpt


FOOTBALL in west London is in a state of crisis. The geography is changing all the time and in 10 years the landscape could be unrecognisable from the situation today.

Fulham and Brentford are desperately searching for sites for a new ground, while it is only QPR's role as landlords - firstly to Wasps Rugby Club and now Fulham - which is keeping them afloat.

Wimbledon, whose Boxing Day opener at Milton Keynes was confirmed this week, have long since jumped ship. Even Chelsea can only carry [pound]97m debts for so long.

The complex links between the west London clubs would make the Mafia blush.

Ex-QPR chairman Richard Thompson is seeking to take over at Brentford, while Bees chairman Ron Noades once ran Wimbledon and failed in a bid to take charge at QPR.

Fulham chairman Mohamed Fayed was reported to be looking at Brentford before buying the Cottagers.

As well as a shared gene pool, the clubs are united by a sense of common peril. The cost of buying land in their traditional areas is proving prohibitively expensive for Fulham and Brentford, while QPR are struggling with Loftus Road's running costs.

Fulham intend to return to Craven Cottage, their home since 1895, after two years at QPR but there is scepticism as to whether they will go back.

The club have denied they are seeking a permanent move to Loftus Road, but have admitted looking at alternative sites, and recently had a bid to buy a former milk processing and distribution plant rejected.

The 10.3-acre Westway site at Wood Lane is four miles from Craven Cottage, next to the BBC's White City headquarters and a proposed [pound]1.5 billion shopping centre development. Dairy Crest expected to sell the site to Helical Bar, a property investment company, and Morley Fund Management for a fee of [pound]20m.

Brentford's problems are even more severe - they are losing [pound]1m a year at Griffin Park and must move to secure their future - and Noades believes it is time to consider a nuclear option. Ground-sharing has always been considered taboo in this country because of the tribal nature of fans, but Noades believes it is the only way forward. …

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