Fulham aim to expand Cottage
Fulham have confirmed they are staying at Craven Cottage and have revealed plans that would see the ground's capacity increase to 30,000. The stadium has been the Whites' home since 1896 and currently holds 25,700 after several refurbishment projects over the past decade. Recent speculation suggested Fulham have been looking to move to a new stadium, and a potential ground share with west London neighbours QPR or Chelsea has also been reported. However, the Cottagers have confirmed that no such talks have taken place with either club and that they intend to stay at a redeveloped Craven Cottage. "Fulham has seen unprecedented success both on and off the pitch in recent years, and is now an established Premier League club, qualifying for European competitions and accommodating over 25,000 people on a regular basis," Fulham chief executive Alastair Mackintosh said on Saturday. "We are confident that a redevelopment will improve the fans matchday experience, and enhance our corporate offering, whilst remaining sympathetic to the design of this historic ground. "Naturally our core family values, and the tradition of the football club, continue to be at the forefront of everything we do. "This investment at Craven Cottage demonstrates yet again the chairman's continued ambition to see the club prosper and grow and to continue to compete at this level for many years to come. "We are still in the very early stages of the planning process and will be holding a public exhibition in mid-October, where we would very much welcome people's thoughts on our initial ideas." In information released on Saturday, Fulham revealed they are looking at ways to develop the Riverside Stand in order to increase the stadium's capacity up to 30,000. The venue would also be subject to wider facility improvements and, as part of the consultation process, the club will begin speaking to residents, supporters and other interested groups from next week. Fulham thought they had played their last match at Craven Cottage at the end of the 2001-02 campaign, spending the following season at QPR's Loftus Road with the intention of starting out a new stadium a year later. Opposition to the proposal put paid to the process and spiralling costs eventually resulted in the Whites aborting plans for a new home. Instead, the club invested money in refurbishment work to increase Craven Cottage's capacity to 25,700, while upgrading facilities. Recent reports suggested Fulham have reignited their search for a new ground in west London and would be vying with neighbours QPR and Chelsea for suitable plots. QPR chief executive officer Philip Beard said on Thursday that the club are looking to leave Loftus Road for a new stadium, preferably in the Shepherd's Bush area. Chelsea have also hit the headlines as they consider stadium options. The Blues this week made an offer to Chelsea Pitch Owners - most of whose shareholders are fans - for the stadium's freehold in what has been seen as a precursor to a move to a new 60,000-seater ground.
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