Khan says Jackson statue has to go
Fulham chairman Shahid Khan believes removing the controversial Michael Jackson statue outside Craven Cottage is the "right thing" to do.
Former owner Mohamed Al Fayed, a close friend of the late performer, commissioned the statue which was erected outside the west London stadium in April 2011. The memorial for a man that only visited the ground once shocked many, but Khan promised to get fans’ views rather than make a "knee-jerk reaction" after completing his takeover of the club.
Al Fayed warned Khan he would be "in big trouble" if it went, promising to shave off his moustache, but the new owner has decided to take the statue down.
"Craven Cottage means the world to generations of Fulham supporters, and I have heard from many of them over the past two months," he said in a statement on the club’s official website. "Our supporters’ views on the statue have been made clear. I respect Mr. Al Fayed and know he had good intentions in paying an individual tribute. However, the removal of the statue is the right thing for Fulham Football Club."
The statue was commissioned following Jackson’s death in June 2009 and was due to be erected at Harrods before Al Fayed sold the Knightsbridge store. The decision to relocate it to Craven Cottage was controversial, with statues at football grounds generally reserved for club legends.
Jackson’s links to Fulham are tenuous to say the least – he watched a game against Wigan there as a guest of Al Fayed in 1999. The singer was also dogged by controversy during his lifetime. Despite that, Al Fayed refuted claims that the memorial is bizarre and lashed out at the naysayers.
"Why is it bizarre?," he said at its unveiling. "Football fans love it. If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift they can go to hell. I don’t want them to be fans. If they don’t understand and don’t believe in things I believe in they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else."
The statue will now be given back to the former owner Al Fayed as the club presses on with its redevelopment of the Riverside Stand.