EPL: Michael Jackson to Be Immortalised at Fulham's Craven Cottage
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If one was to think of an appropriate place to erect a statue in honour of pop singer Michael Jackson, you would be forgiven for overlooking Craven Cottage, the home stadium of Fulham football club.
Madison Square Garden, Hollywood Boulevard or his hometown of Gary, Indiana, would seem like a more fitting choice.
Regardless of location, Fulham chairman Mohammed Al Fayed is set to unveil a memorial of the music icon on the banks of the River Thames; a position adjacent to the Hammersmith and Riverside stands at the stadium. The ceremony will take place at midday on April 3.
The decision has been met with a flurry of discontent and scepticism by Fulham fans—many feeling that the statue will make a nationwide mockery of the London-based club.
The Daily Mail quotes that many fans feel that the stadium has become a "dumping ground for his weird statue," following Al Fayed’s recent sale of department store Harrods.
Supporter Chris Blackhurst spoke on behalf of numerous Fulham fans in an Evening Standard commentary.
"Let's face it, we're only getting him because Fayed no longer owns Harrods and the new mob did not want to know," Mr Blackhurst wrote.
"According to Fayed, 'Michael Jackson was truly a legend.' He was that all right. But not as a footballer. And not for Fulham."
The fact that the only other statue at the ground is that of club legend Johnny Haynes, a star player in the 50s, could make Fulham fans all the more bitter.
A Facebook group has been set up in protest of the memorial and a petition has been reported to have collected hundreds of votes.
A small crowd is also expected to attend the unveiling to express their discontent.
It is unfortunate that a tribute to a much celebrated musician, who died prematurely, is being met by anger and not jubilation.
Mohammed Al Fayed has remained defiant on the issue and has received backing from first team manager Mark Hughes and star defender Brede Hangelend.
In an interview with the Daily Express, the Norwegian commented, “The chairman has done fantastic things for this club and if he wants to do this that’s fine by us.”
A Guardian article quotes the Egyptian tycoon, stating that "Michael Jackson was truly a legend, a term used too often in this modern world, saturated in the hyperbole surrounding celebrity," said Fayed.
"He was my friend, a man with whom I shared many happy memories and who died a tragic and untimely death. He left behind a legacy of music so vast it takes one's breath away; from a precocious talent to an ingenuity and ground breaking modernity that shall never be repeated.
"It shall often be imitated, but it will never be replicated. Michael Jackson was, and shall always remain, one of a kind. I hope that many fans of his will visit the statue at the Cottage from far and wide, and that Fulham fans will appreciate seeing the finest performer in the world, in and amongst them, the finest fans in the world."
Michael Jackson’s only known involvement with the club was attending a single game in 1999; a 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic in the old Second Division.
The statue is reported to have captured the pop star in an “iconic pose.”
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