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Al Fayed blasts unappreciative Fulham fans at Michael Jackson statue unveiling

The Fulham chairman was a close friend of the late singer, erecting the statue that was destined to be on show at Harrods to Craven Cottage.

The Michael Jackson statue is likely to cause uproar amongst Fulham fans.
The Michael Jackson statue is likely to cause uproar amongst Fulham fans.

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

Al Fayed, a close friend of the late performer, has caused controversy after announcing he had decided to place the tribute to Jackson outside the Cottagers' stadium in west London.

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

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The decision to relocate it to Craven Cottage is likely to divide opinion, with statues at football grounds generally reserved for club legends.

Jackson's links to Fulham are tenuous to say the least — he watched a game there as a guest of Al Fayed in 1999 — while the singer was also dogged by controversy during his lifetime.

Despite this, Al Fayed has refuted claims that the memorial is bizarre and lashed out at fans that have spoken against it.

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

"If some stupid fans don't understand and appreciate such a gift 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: "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 played during Jackson's appearance against Wigan in 1999 and is now the Under 18s manager at Fulham.

"It is great," he said. "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."

Speaking on the time of Jackson's visit, he added: "It was just happy times. They were great times back then.

"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."