Mohamed Al Fayed chairman of Fulham Football Club today unveiled a statue of Michael Jackson at Fulhams Home ground Craven Cottage.
He has told protesters many of whom are Fulham fans to “go to hell” and “Go and support Chelsea if you don’t like it” I am not a Fulham fan but I have several objections to this statue and what it stands for, but let me give you a little background.
Fulham were founded in 1879, and Craven Cottage is one of the oldest football grounds in the world. The cottage from which it takes its name is a Grade II listed building as is the Johnny Haynes stand which are both examples of Archibald Leitch architecture, which give the ground a unique feel and atmosphere in a era of all seater indenti-fit stadia.
On the pitch pre Al Fayed, Fulham were playing in the lower leagues, with the aid of Al Fayed’s cash Fulham rose through the leagues are are currently playing in the English Premier division. I think that Fulham fans would agree that they wouldn’t be in the Premier League without Al Fayed’s investment. Does this give Al Fayed the right to do what he wants on such an historical site?
Ok on to the objections.
The Fulham fans were there before Al Fayed came along and will be there long after Al Fayed is gone. The fans pay their money to watch Fulham play week in week out. The cottage is their home. So they should at least be able to have a say on it’s decoration without being insulted.
Michael Jackson visited Craven Cottage in 1999 and was a close personal friend of Al Fayed. He was not a Fulham fan, for he also visited Exeter City’s St James Park in June 2002 and was made a honorary director by his friend Uri Gellar who was then on the Exeter board. So Fulham now have a statue honouring a guy who had about as much connection to the club as I do to Carlisle station. (I visited it once)
Music and football have always had connections. Elton John has a strong connection with Watford, Robert Plant is a supporter of Wolves, Noel and Liam Gallagher (when not arguing) can be found at Manchester City. Michael Jackson according to Uri Gellar knew nothing about football.
Oooh and now for the controversy. Michael Jackson was a paedophile. Pornographic images were found at the Neverland Ranch depicting children. Now the guy is dead people have swept that under the carpet. He gave away millons of dollars to hush up allegations of child molestation. So he is about as deserving of a statue at a football ground as Gary Glitter is deserving of a chain of playgroups.
This is Al Fayed honouring his friend, which he has every right to do. He has the money to display the statue wherever he wants. So why defile a site steeped in history and football character honouring a man who has no connection with it whatsoever.
And if Mr Madejski is reading this (he subscribes I’m sure) a statue of Cilla Black at the Mad Stad is not a good idea!