You may know Pakistani-born American billionaire Shahid “Shad” Khan as owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he also purchased the English Premier League team Fulham F.C. this past July. And I’m surprised it took him this long to get around to it, but he’s getting rid of the God-awful statue in front of Fulham Stadium in London, and shipping it back to its former owner.
In April of 2011, then-Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed erected the statue of The King of Pop amidst great outcry from fans of soccer and good taste. Aside from the statue being really aesthetically awful, Fulham faithful wondered why it needed to be there at all. It was just so totally random, as if Al Fayed had decided to put up a statue of SpongeBob SquarePants, or Paris Hilton.
The answer: Al Fayed happened to be a big Michael Jackson fan, and even invited Jackson to visit and check out a game. Which he did, in 1999.
Now a former Fulham star, who played against Wigan that day, claimed Jackson’s appearance in the home dressing room stopped just short of turning into a major embarrassment.
He said: “When they said Jackson was at the ground most of the players fell about laughing. We thought it was a complete wind-up. We half expected someone to turn up wearing a Jacko mask and silver glove. But when we were told the chairman was bringing him down to meet us the whole thing descended into farce.
“One player claimed it was a stupid joke and threatened to pull the mask off the imposter’s face when he appeared. I’m not sure whether he lost his bottle or became sceptical once the dressing room door opened and Jackson was confronted by another player doing a moonwalk impression. Half the players didn’t even know where to look let alone what to say to him. We did wonder whether it was one of those lookalikes who makes a living out of impersonating stars.
“His face looked real enough and he did sound a bit like Jackson. It’s not an experience you tend to forget in a hurry that’s for sure.”
Al Fayed’s reply to the hatred of his statue was: “The fans can go to hell.” I believe that also became the Fulham FC motto.
But now Khan is in charge, and he’s remodeling that particular area to make it look less like one of Cosmo Kramer’s pasta sculptures. UK Metro:
But it seems this is it for the Jackson statue, with a statement from Fulham confirming its removal from Craven Cottage amid development of the ground.
‘The statue is not part of the Riverside development of the stadium and will be returned to the former chairman in due course,’ the statement said.