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Did removal of Michael Jackson statue end Fulham's 13-year Premier League stay?
Former owner Mohamed Al Fayed blames dismantling of statue on Fulham demise
Al Fayed installed tribute to the late singer at Craven Cottage stadium in 2011
New Fulham owner Shahid Khan removed statue which is now in the National Football Museum in Manchester
When it came to relegation from the English Premier League Fulham could not quite “Beat It” – but things could have been very different if the London club had kept its lucky statue of Michael Jackson.
Fulham’s former owner Mohamed Al Fayed has blamed the club’s demise on the removal of the statue he erected in memory of the late King of Pop outside the club’s Craven Cottage stadium in 2011.
After buying the club from Al Fayed in July 2013, American billionaire Shahid Khan had the two-and-a-half meter tribute dismantled.
Jackson’s statue now has a new home at the National Football Museum in Manchester, but Al Fayed says it is too late to save Fulham’s fate.
“This statue was a charm and we removed the luck from the club and now we have to pay the price,” Al Fayed told reporters as the statue was unveiled at the museum.
“When (Khan) asked me to move it I said, ‘you must be crazy’. This is such a fantastic statue which the fans are crying out for.
“But now he has paid the price because the club has been relegated. He called me because he told me he wanted Michael to return. I told him, no way.”
Al Fayed was a friend of the Jackson and the late singing superstar accepted an invitation to watch Fulham take on Wigan at Craven Cottage in English football’s third tier in 1999.
Following Jackson’s death in 2009, the businessman split opinion among the club’s fans with his decision to install the statue, with Al Fayed saying that fans who did not like his tribute could “go to hell.”
Jackson’s statue now has a place in the English National Football Museum as part of the sport’s folklore.
“This is a great place visited by thousands of people and I am very proud to present them with one of the greatest artists and singers in the world,” said the 85-year-old Al Fayed.
“Michael is a fantastic example for everyone. He came from nowhere and showed fantastic determination to be a superstar and I am very glad that he is now in this great institution for people to enjoy.”
Al Fayed ended 16 years at the helm of the London club last summer when he sold the club to Khan, owner of American football team the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After a period of stability under Al Fayed, the club’s form plummeted and it dropped down to the Championship after 13 years in the top flight of English football.
Read: Al Fayed sells Fulham to billionaire NFL owner