Khan trying to rebuild 2 clubs: Fulham, Jaguars

    2014-03-25 15:23

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
AP Sports Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Shad Khan has two rebuilding projects on his hands.

He believes one can be a fixed quicker than the other.

Khan, who owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and the Premier League's Fulham Football Club, said Tuesday he has to use considerably different methods to try to stabilize the two losing clubs.

''The NFL is a league that's built for the long haul,'' Khan said at the NFL owners meetings. ''How you think through things is very, very different. Premier League, it's like fixing a plane while it's flying. With the NFL, you can land the plane and fix it. If the NFL was the Premier League, Jacksonville would have been relegated. So there are different opportunities.''

Khan already fired two Fulham managers this season - Martin Jol in December, Rene Meulensteen 75 days later.

''You have to do the right thing for the team,'' Khan said. ''That's one of the responsibilities, whether you're an owner of an NFL team or a chairman of a soccer team. Have you put the team in the best place?''

The billionaire owner believes firing Meulensteen and replacing him with Felix Magath was a risk worth taking to try to keep the London club in the Premier League. If Fulham is relegated - the bottom three teams in the Premier League get dumped to the championship level every year - it would cost Khan about $60 million annually in television revenue. And the club would lose even more with reduced gate receipts.

Fulham has seven games remaining, including four at home, and needs to make up four points to avoid relegation.

''I think there's definitely hope,'' said Khan, adding that four of the games are against teams in the bottom half of the standings. ''Certainly I'm optimistic.''

Khan bought Fulham from Mohamed Al Fayed last July in a deal worth more than $200 million.

He acknowledged that he's already looked at the economic impact of relegation.

''You don't get into this without really understanding all of the implications,'' Khan said.

Khan credited the NFL's growing presence in London with helping boost Jacksonville's exposure.

The Jaguars are generally considered the least popular NFL team in the United States. Khan bought the franchise from majority owner Wayne Weaver in November 2011 for $770 million. Khan agreed to have the Jaguars play one game annually for four years in London, beginning last season.

''London is a very, very important thing for Jacksonville,'' said Khan, who hopes to create an ''international awareness'' about Jacksonville that might prompt young people and businesses to locate there. ''I think financially, exposurewise, the awareness we have as a team, it's amazing. A year ago, if you went outside the U.S. and did who was your favorite NFL team or which NFL team do you like or knew, Jacksonville was No. 31 out of 32.

''This year, the latest NFL survey outside U.S., we're No. 9. So in a little over a year we've had that much visibility and improvement and I think it's very, very important for the Jaguars.''

The Jaguars finished 4-12 last season, doubling their win total from 2012.

Khan believes general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley, both entering their second seasons, have the team headed in the right direction. Jacksonville has missed the playoffs 12 of the last 14 seasons, but is committed to building through the draft and supplementing in free agency.

''If you look at the teams that are successful, they're going to be built through the draft and some missing pieces are going to be filled in through free agency,'' Khan said. ''I think that is the formula for success. A goal for me, we want to have a consistent winning team moving forward.

''This rebuilding over and over again is brutal for the fans. I mean, it's brutal if you have anything to do with it. Just think about it. There are maybe a dozen teams that are always in contention that are always manage to be competitive and there's so much competitive balance, parity, whatever you want to call it. Our goal is we consistently want to be there. And to be able to do that you've got to really build through the draft and fill the vacancies.''

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