Football: Cottage industry with big ambitions

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The Independent Online
With the arrival of Kevin Keegan, Fulham are seeking a return to the glory, glory days when the likes of George Best, Bobby Moore and Rodney Marsh graced Craven Cottage and the side reached the 1975 FA Cup final. What are their chances?

Last season's confidence-building promotion on a shoestring budget and the financial backing of Mohamed Al Fayed have laid the platform for the club's quest to return to the top flight for the first time since 1968.

Founded in 1879, Fulham have played mostly in the lower divisions but were in the old First Division between 1949 and 1952 and 1959 and 1968.

Their record signing is the pounds 200,000 paid to Oxford United for the centre- forward Paul Moody in July. Given Al Fayed's promise of millions to buy new players , it is unlikely to remain the record for much longer.

Plans are underway to increase the capacity at Craven Cottage from the current 10,500 to an estimated 25,000, to be completed possibly as early as the second half of this season. If Fulham play the kind of football Newcastle did under Keegan then last season's highest attendance, 11,500 against Northampton Town, will be easily exceeded.

Ladbrokes have cut the odds on Fulham winning the Second Division from 14-1 to 10-1, while William Hill have shortened to 16-1 from 20-1. Hills also make the club 8-1 to be relegated, however. As far as the Premiership is concerned, Hills make the club 12-1 to be in among the elite for the start of the 1999-2000 season.

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