Al Fayed laments Fulham's Jackson dive
Former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed came up with an unusual explanation on Tuesday for their Premier League relegation -- the removal of Michael Jackson's statue.
Shahid Khan, who bought Fulham from Al Fayed, had the giant statue of the late American pop star taken away from outside London club Fulham's Craven Cottage ground in November.
The statue soon become an object of ridicule, even among Fulham fans, with many supporters unable to understand why Al Fayed was honouring a man who only had a tenuous connection to their club in such a way.
But Egyptian Al Fayed, originally well-known in Britain for owning London's Harrods department store and latterly as the father of Dodi Fayed, killed in the same car crash as Diana, Princess of Wales, his then girlfriend, in Paris in 1997, said the statue had brought Fulham luck.
"This statue was a charm and we removed the luck from the club and now we have to pay the price," said Al Fayed as he presented the 7ft 6in (2.29 metres) sculpture of Jackson to the National Football Museum in Manchester.
"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, a friend of Jackson, installed the statue at the back of the Hammersmith Stand in 2011.
The singer did visit Craven Cottage when he attended a match between Fulham and Wigan in 1999.
But following Al Fayed's decision to sell the club to American businessman Khan, he was told it would have to be removed.
As for the statue's new home in Manchester, Al Fayed said: "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.
"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."