Even from day one, the seven-and-a-half-foot tall statue of the late singer Michael Jackson that was installed outside of the Craven Cottage football stadium in 2011, was mocked mercilessly by fans of London’s Fulham Football Club… and it was really all downhill from there.
Commissioned by business magnate, friend of Jackson, and Fulham Football Club’s owner Mohamed Al Fayed to commemorate the time Jackson came to a match in 1999, the plaster and resin likeness of the King of Pop had been installed at the back of the Hammersmith Stand of Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium beneath a wall reading “MICHAEL JACKSON THE TRIBUTE.”
The gesture from Fayed to his deceased friend had always been derided by the public, unable to see the touching warmth hidden inside the overblown, awkwardly placed gesture. Fayed even went so far as to tell fans to “go to hell” when they had the audacity to tell him to remove the statue.
Then, in 2013 when Fayed sold the club to Shahid Khan, the latter went so far as to include a clause in the business contract that assured the statue would be removed from the grounds at Craven Cottage, endearing himself to the masses in a way Fayed hadn’t experienced in years. Promptly thereafter, however, the club itself failed out of the Premiere League entirely after a 13-season streak in football’s top division, turning the tables on Khan.
Fayed interpreted the club’s demise as entirely related to the disrespect paid to the statue of his friend, to which Fayed apparently prescribed talismanic qualities. Upon the statue’s reinstallation at Manchester’s National Football Museum, Fayed remarked:
“This statue was a charm and we removed the luck from the club and now we have to pay the price[…] 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.”
And thus, the statue is now locked firmly in the Museum and Fulham have only just managed to claw their way back into the premier league.
Update May 2023: After the statue was removed from Manchester’s National Football Museum in March 2019, it has been in storage at the museum archives at Deepdale, the stadium for Preston North End FC.