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Subject: Michael Jackson Fulham FC statue defended by Al Fayed

Written By: Philip Eno on 04/04/11 at 12:32 pm

Fulham chairman Mohammed Al Fayed has told fans they can "go to hell" if they do not appreciate a new Michael Jackson statue at Craven Cottage stadium.

Mr Al Fayed unveiled the statue on Sunday prior to the west London Premier League team's match against Blackpool.

The statue was commissioned following Jackson's death in June 2009 and was due to be erected at Harrods before Mr Al Fayed sold the Knightsbridge store.

"Why is it bizarre? Football fans love it," he said after the unveiling.

Outside the stadium, Fulham fan Michael Tune said: "We're a laughing stock. It has nothing to do with football."

Another Fulham fan, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "It makes the club look silly. I thought it was an April Fools joke."

But Mr Al Fayed said: "If some stupid fans don't understand and appreciate such a gift this guy gave to the world 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," he added.

Mr Al Fayed's decision to relocate the statue of Jackson to Fulham's stadium has been unpopular with some fans.

The singer was a friend of Mr Al Fayed's but his only known link to the football club is that he attended one game as a guest of the chairman, against Wigan Athletic in 1999.

But Mr Al Fayed said: "The last game he attended here with me, he was running like a child, he loved the place.

"He loved Fulham and he wanted to attend all of the matches.

"People will queue to come and visit it from all over the UK and it is something that I and everybody else should be proud of."

Kit Symons, who played in the match Jackson attended in 1999 and is now under-18s manager at the Cottagers said: "It is great.

"The big thing is it is obviously something that the chairman feels very, very passionately about and he has decided to erect this statue and fair dos to him."

Reflecting on the time of Jackson's visit, he added: "It was just happy times.

"The chairman obviously used to bring high profile people down the games.

"Tony Curtis was here a few weeks after and it was just fantastic times."

Central defender Brede Hangeland said the decision to erect the statue was backed by the club's players.

He said: "Some of our players are Michael Jackson fans, some aren't, and that's the same in the general population.

"His music has been on in the dressing room a couple of times. I'm sure we won when his music was played!

"We have the deepest respect for everything about the chairman. If he wants to do this then it is all good."

Inspired by the statue, Fulham beat Blackpool 3-0 in the match which followed the unveiling.

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