Fulham may never return to Craven Cottage

Fulham today marked the first day of their two-year groundshare with Queens Park Rangers by admitting they may never return to Craven Cottage.

Jean Tigana’s men kick off their stay at 19,148-capacity Loftus Road with their Intertoto Cup semi-final, first leg clash with French side Sochaux tonight - but confess they may not go back to their home on the banks of the River Thames.

A prolonged legal battle with local residents, who have stubbornly refused to accept plans for a 30,000 all-seater Craven Cottage, have already forced the club to saddle up with Second Division QPR for two seasons rather than one.

And now fears that the ’Fulham Alliance’ protest group could take their fight to the House of Lords and then European Court of Human Rights - along with reports that the projected £70m (€112m) ground revamp costs have soared to almost £100m (€160m) - mean Fulham could have left Craven Cottage for good.

Cottagers chief executive officer Bruce Langham said: "We’re still looking for potential alternative sites because it is prudent to do so."

Langham emphasised the importance of Fulham playing football in a ground that matches their top-flight status.

"Our preferred option is still to redevelop Craven Cottage," he told the London Evening Standard.

"But it would be foolhardy not to keep our options open to ensure we’re able to build a stadium we can be proud of."

Fulham admitted a fortnight ago they had enquired about a new venue at Wood Lane, west London - and today’s admission by Langham will leave fans wondering whether the Intertoto victory over Greek minnows Aigaleo on July 20 was the last time they will ever visit Craven Cottage.

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