Who sold Craven Cottage

Actually it was the last owner, Mohammed Fayed

billp TOOFIF Site updated Friday, 18 May 2018


There’s only one F in Fulham

The Fulham Fanzine


The Lawyer

  1. http://www.thelawyer.com/forsters-‘reckless’-over-craven-cottage-advice/108380.article

  1. Forsters ‘reckless’ over Craven Cottage advice

  2. 9 February 2004

  3. Emma Vere-Jones

  4. A legal battle over the sale of Fulham football ground Craven Cottage has seen Forsters senior partner Sophie Hamilton chided by a High Court judge, and has also revealed that the firm has lost the bulk of its work for property developer client Crown Dilmun.

  5. Crown Dilmun v Nicholas Sutton and Fulham River Projects (FRP) revolves around the £50m sale of Craven Cottage. Crown Dilmun claimed that former Fulham director Sutton had taken the opportunity to purchase the ground for redevelopment for himself, thereby breaching his fiduciary duty to his former employer.

  6. Hamilton advised Sutton on the purchase, and is also the sole director of the second defendant FRP, the vehicle used to purchase the ground.

  7. Although Mr Justice Peter Smith ruled that Forsters had initially been misled by Sutton, he also said that Hamilton had been “reckless” in continuing to advise him. Judge Smith also said that she had then sought to protect her position in a self-serving way.

  8. The bulk of Crown Dilmun’s work is now being handled by Wedlake Bell, after it hired former Forsters partner Kim Lalli last year. Forsters retains some construction and residential development work.

  9. Forsters managing partner Paul Roberts said that the firm was “surprised and disappointed by some of the judge’s comments”, in which neither Forsters nor Hamilton were parties.

  10. Sutton, who the court found had acted dishonestly, has not ruled out an appeal, but is waiting until after a costs hearing to make a decision. FRP is understood to be seeking leave to appeal.

  11. Nabarros also left red-faced in Crown Dilmun v Sutton

  12. While Forsters got a rap over the knuckles in Crown Dilmun v Nicholas Sutton, the judgment also revealed a rather embarrassing incident for Nabarro Nathanson, which was acting for the bank financing Sutton’s bid.

  13. “They [Nabarro Nathanson] had left some confidential documents relating to the [the possible sale of Craven Cottage to Sutton] in a taxi. The taxi driver had discovered them, saw the reference to Mr Al-Fayed and handed the confidential documents about the purchaser’s financing proposals to the seller. Not surprisingly, Mr Sutton was concerned.”

  14. It is understood that while the client is still with Nabarros, the partner involved is not.


The Guardian

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2004/feb/07/newsstory.sport7

  2. Judge slams lawyer over
    Fulham slip

  3. Lawyer criticised over advice given to property developer

  4. Saturday 7 February 2004

  5. A lawyer involved in the controversial sale of Fulham's Craven Cottage ground to a property consortium has been heavily criticised by a high court judge for her role in the affair.

  6. Sophie Hamilton, a partner at the Mayfair firm Forsters, is the sole director of Fulham River Projects Limited, which purchased an option to buy the ground for £15m last year.

  7. Hamilton advised Nick Sutton, the developer behind FRPL, over the purchase. He has subsequently been sued by his former company Crown Dilmun for passing up the chance to buy the property for them and instead quitting and buying it himself.

  8. Mr Justice Peter Smith said Hamilton had failed to appreciate her client's breach of duty to his then employer. "Alarm bells should have rung and they did not even tinkle," the judge said. Fulham are due to return to the Cottage from the start of next season, but are still seeking a new home.

  9. Several leading football agents have responded to recent criticism of their trade by arranging to meet with the aim of establishing a pan-European body that will award a trademark to reputable agents, a move they believe will encourage ethical behaviour among their peers.

  1. Well! It cannot but be obvious to anybody reading about all this for the first time not to conclude that whatever happened, surely the owner of the club couldn’t have been kept in the dark during all these shenanigans. At least the advice he’d obviously been listening to had to have been far from accurate.

  2. It was said at the time that his ‘Advisors’ had maintained that the Cottage site could never be re-developed to be an all-seater stadium within the existing fabric of the ground. Lucky for us that well-connected fans under the auspices of Fulham 2000 were able to gain access to Mohamed Al Fayed with a viable solution to this problem.

This would probably seem like a shock headline to some, it’s no conspiracy theory though, while we were camped at Loftus Road, Craven Cottage was actually sold, the question is how much did Mo’ keep from us,it smacked of Clay, Bulstrode and Cabra all over again.

Read the following with disbelief

This leaflet was issued by BTTC at the time. There we were all looking forward to returning to an elaborately re-furbished stadium, all seater, a vast aray of bars, refreshment and food outlets, escalators, stainless steel and all. The Stevenage Road frontage cleaned up and retained but sadly no Cottage or tree in the corner between the Putney End and Riverside Stand.

Then the news broke, first before the close of our first season in Shepherds Bush that there would be a delay before the building works could be started although planning consent had been won after a very drawn out and dirty campaign by NIMBYs.

Therefore we would be forced to endure a further season at Loftus Road. We were also told that the cost of the rebuild was in the region of £60m and most materials would be shipped in by river.

The Supporters’ Club, which had been granted a long time home in various rooms in the Cottage and which had been in a portacabin at the back of the Hammersmith End for a few seasons, was to have a dedicated permanent space underneath the Hammersmith End Stand.

The odd thing was, we were all pretty buoyant, the team was playing decent football and our record at Loftus Road was actually darn good, we were looking forward to returning to what was promised to be one of the best, modern stadia in the UK. and we were settled in the Premier League.

The next blow to our bubble of false security was the announcement that due to various unforeseen (although the most cynical amongst us had foretold this) that we could not re-develop the Craven Cottage site as the costs had risen to £100m rendering the works unsustainable, for costs to be elevated by 70% in a year actually takes some doing. Worse was the news that it would be impossible, untenable, impractical to convert the ground into all seater, obviously Mo’ had brilliant advisers who knew all about building works, football stadia and so on and not a clue about making money, or was it the other way round?

We were effectively being told that we would be homeless once our two year deal with QPR expired. All through the Loftus road period, there had been countless rumours, Mo’s intention had all along been to sell the ground and relocate the club elsewhere.

One such story was that he was going to buy Loftus Road and ground share QPR and Fulham on a brand new all purpose stadium to be built a derelict site in the

As reported in the media

Fulham plans rejected

By Alistair Grant

Wednesday 23 October 2002 23:00 BST

The Independent Sport


Bush, there had been whispers that a ‘mystery benefactor’ had loaned Rangers £10m during our first season over there, this fed that particular theory.

The site (said to be owned by Dairy Crest and even the BBC) was not available, some said because the proper planning laws would not allow it because of access and transport problems, it later formed the Westfield retail development.

Fortunately, there were enough Fulham fans still fighting to retain the Craven Cottage site amongst them professionals in the sort of construction environment that had knowledge of the specialised nature of sports stadiums, lawyers, and so on. Also worth special mention is the fan who managed to get a preservation order made on the plane tree between the Putney and Riverside stands, making it impossible to demolish those entirely and create an integrated stand, a clever way to prevent hasty action.

That those well connected fans managed to meet up with the Chairman with the plans they had drawn up which proved beyond doubt that it would be possible to remain and comply with the regulations for an all seater enlarged capacity Cottage and better still it would be ready for the 2004-2005 season , having been there fro two seasons, 2002–2003, 2003–2004, a major downside being the sale of our best striker, Louis Saha, to Manure. This is sadly a constant theme for Fulham and clubs like them.

Fulham have had plans to build a new stadium complex in Shepherd's Bush, west London, rejected. The scheme, incorporating shops and hotels, was to have been modelled along the lines of Chelsea Village.

The Fulham chairman, Mohamed Al Fayed, infuriated by a residents' legal battle which has stalled the £70m redevelopment of Craven Cottage for two years, is searching for alternative locations for a ground with a capacity up to 40,000.

While Fulham's official line is that they are still committed to redeveloping Craven Cottage, it was reported yesterday that Fayed was seriously considering moving the club to Osterley, on the edge of London near Heathrow airport, following the collapse of the Shepherd's Bush scheme.

Fayed already owns a sizeable tract of land in Osterley where there is a warehouse for

his Harrods business, but any such move would certainly enrage Fuham supporters, who are committed to the club remaining close to its roots in inner London.

Fulham sources said the club examined the site last year, but immediately ruled it out as it is too small and too far from Craven Cottage. However, the fact Fayed already owns the site, and therefore does not have to embark on a lengthy buying process, could yet lead to a change of heart.

In July, Fulham made a failed bid for a derelict site in Shepherd's Bush, just by Queen's Park Rangers' Loftus Road ground, which they are sharing for two seasons.

The preferred bidder for the site was the property developer, Helical Bar & Morley Fund Management. Three weeks ago, Fulham held talks with the London-based group over teaming up to build a state-of-t

he-art stadium. Sources close to the discussions disclosed that the level of Fulham's potential investment meant they were considering a complex similar to Chelsea's Village, which features a hotel, bars and restaurants. Matthew Bonning-Snook, the Helical Bar development executive, said: "Fulham approached us to work with them to develop a stadium – but it wouldn't work financially for us, so we're no longer in discussions with them. There are a large number of alternative uses which would be more valuable, including housing or offices."

Chester Stern, Fulham's controller of public affairs, said: "Our preferred option remains Craven Cottage, although we have looked at one or two sites as a fall-back position.

"And if we can't go back to Craven Cottage, we want to stay in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham."


Cottage to go in £50m deal

Luxury flats to replace ground if the council grants planning permission

Paul Kelso

Thu 16 Jan 2003 22.33 GMT

First published on Thu 16 Jan 2003 22.33 GMT

The Guardian

Mohamed Al Fayed's Fulham have signed a £50m agreement that would mean Craven Cottage is demolished and replaced by a development of Harrods-branded luxury flats if planning permission is obtained.

Contracts seen by the Guardian confirm the club intends to sell the historic riverside stadium, which has been home to Fulham's since 1896. It would be replaced by a 240,000 sq ft (73,150 sq metres) development likely to be marketed under the Harrods brand.

The club has already received a down-payment of £15m on the deal from Fulham River Projects Ltd (FRP) and, if planning permission is granted, work should begin on the development by the autumn of 2005.

A club spokesman last night denied the deal meant Fulham would definitely quit the ground for good. "This is a precautionary move in case we reach a point at which we have to sell Craven Cottage," he said, reiterating Fayed's statement of Tuesday.

"The chairman has not misled the fans. As we have repeatedly said we are still actively pursuing an option to redevelop Craven Cottage in a more economical way, and that is our genuine pursuit."

On Tuesday the spokesman had said the £15m payment was simply for the option to buy the stadium.

The deal, which was struck on September 18 last year, states Fulham must "use all reasonable endeavours to obtain a satisfactory planning permission as soon as practicable". The document's timetable suggests an application ought to have been made to Hammersmith and Fulham council by December 31 last year. There was no record yesterday of an application having been made.

The plans will dismay supporters who have always believed that their team, currently groundsharing with Queen's Park Rangers at Loftus Road, would one day return to a redeveloped Craven Cottage. Five days after the contract was signed, Fayed said: "Redeveloping Craven Cottage remains our preferred option and priority."

The contract, lodged with the Land Registry on September 19 2002, outlined "the demolition of the existing football stadium and other buildings on the property and the construction . . . of residential units comprising not less than 240,000 sq ft of net saleable space".

If planning permission is obtained for any space over the target of 240,000 sq ft mentioned in the contract, the cost of the land will rise by £160 per sq ft.

The contract also states that Fulham Stadium Ltd, the current owner of the ground, "shall use reasonable endeavours to acquire an alternative site for use by Fulham Football Club as a football stadium".

The Fulham spokesman added last night: "As you will know the contract is conditional on many things and particularly on planning permission being achieved. It is clearly understood by both parties that unless a suitable site to build a new stadium can be found within the borough then we will not proceed."

The club has already begun searching for alternative sites outside the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and has been in talks with the Chelsea chairman Ken Bates about a possible groundshare at Stamford Bridge.

According to the contract the club has agreed to apply for planning permission on behalf of FRP, and to submit an appeal to Hammersmith and Fulham Council if a barrister, Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC, advises there is a "better than 50%" chance of success.

The club was granted permission to redevelop Craven Cottage into a 28,000-seat stadium last year but in December announced the scheme had become too expensive to be viable.

Two west London architects' practices, ML Design Group and Hamilton Design Group, have been engaged to prepare the residential project along with the planning consultants Planning Perspectives, based in central London.

In the hope of satisfying local development regulations, at least 30% of the development is intended to be made up of affordable housing, though FRP and Fulham agree in the document that their aim is to "work together in a spirit of mutual co-operation to ... maximise the net saleable space and minimise the amount of on-site/affordable housing."

The contract also contains a clause that would mean FRP would be granted a licence to use the Harrods trade mark should the site be developed. This would allow the flats to be marketed under the Harrods name. It would even authorise workers at the site to wear Harrods branding. Harrods Estates is specified as "joint agents for worldwide marketing".

The deal between Fayed and FRP has been conducted amid great secrecy. Correspondence between the parties refers to it as "Project Wisley". Wisley in Surrey is home to the Royal Horticultural Society Garden and close to Fayed's mansion in Oxted.

Little is known about FRP. The company was set up by Forsters Solicitors, a leading property law firm, on September 5 2002. Its only director is Sophie Hamilton, a senior partner at Forsters. Ms Hamilton said she had no personal stake in FRP but declined to comment further.

The Craven Cottage development could prove extremely lucrative. Estate agents in the area yesterday predicted that at current prices a two-bedroom flat on the Craven Cottage site would be worth around £350,000, while penthouses could be sold for in excess of £1m.

The plans will have to incorporate two Grade II listed structures; the famous cottage itself that once housed the club offices, and the Stevenage Road stand. According to planning sources at Hammersmith and Fulham council, even if permission is granted to develop the site, there would still be public recreational facilities there.

"There would have to be affordable housing, there would have to be a sporting or recreational facility retained. In short, we would have to get something in return," the source said.


Fayed scheme for Fulham switch to new White City stadium

By Mihir Bose

12:01AM GMT 01 Jan 2004

The Telegraph

Fulham are planning to leave Craven Cottage for good and move to a new stadium at White City opposite the BBC Television Centre.

Although the club will go back to Craven Cottage next season from their interim base at Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road, this is only a temporary move.

Telegraph Sport can reveal that Hammersmith and Fulham Council have written to the present owners of the site, suggesting that they sell to Mohamed Fayed, the Fulham FC owner.

Harrods Estates, Fayed's property company, are active in the negotiations but not all Fulham directors are aware of this move. The eventual development could also see QPR leave Loftus Road and share the new ground with Fulham.

Fulham's decision to quit Loftus Road will pose serious problems for the Division Two leaders. They have a £10 million loan on which they pay £1 million interest every year. That loan cannot be repaid for 10 years and they need another tenant or some other solution.

One source close to Fayed said: "The mood music is that we move to White City. The White City site remains the chairman's favourite option as the permanent home for Fulham. The council have always said that they would want Fulham to move to White City and the site should be part of a sporting and social development rather than office blocks."

This is the second time Fayed has tried to land White City. He failed in June 2002 when Helical Bar, a property development company, acquired the site after paying around £28 million with Fulham coming third in the bidding process.

Helical Bar's plan is to develop a "media village" for independent production companies, creating more than 10,000 jobs.

I understand that during the last week of October the borough's planners were told that the "outline planning brief", which was due to come out in the first week in November, would not be processed because a political decision had been taken that the land should be sold to Fulham. Simultaneously, Fulham got in touch with Helical Bar about buying the White City site.

Fulham have since made three separate bids for the site, £32 million, £34 million and lastly £37 million. Each bid has been refused. However, the council have played an increasingly central role in encouraging a sale.

At a meeting in November (before the third bid but after the second) Nigel Pallace, the council's director of environment, asked how negotiations were going. When told that Helical Bar were not interested in selling and in any event that the amount offered was not sufficient, Pallace inquired what figure would be enough to sell.

Shortly before the third bid was tabled, the council wrote to Helical Bar stating that it was the council's opinion that the land should be sold to Fulham. Yesterday Pallace was not available for comment. Fayed has already got a conditional sale on Craven Cottage. This was done in September 2002 with Fulham River Projects, the condition being that planning consent for a residential development at Craven Cottage was granted. He has received £15 million as an upfront payment.

This agreement is the subject of a separate legal dispute about who owns Fulham River Projects. During the hearing, the judge remarked that the £15 million was crucial for Fulham's finances.

Should the council persuade Helical Bar to sell, then Fayed could complete his property deal with Fulham River Projects.

Sources close to Fayed insist that any money obtained would go into the new stadium. But the £45 million likely from the sale of Craven Cottage would just about pay for the site and not the stadium, which could cost another £150 million.

Fayed spent more than £100 million taking Fulham from the Second Division into the Premiership but those days are over.

How Fayed would finance the White City project is not clear and it is doubtful Fulham fans will be attracted. Results-wise, the two years at Loftus Road have been among the best in the club's history, yet season ticket sales are down on the last campaign played at Craven Cottage