Fulham’s statuesque transfer policy

by Dan Mobbs

As some top flight clubs begin their pre-season campaign with lucrative brand promoting trips to the Far East, so transfer speculation begins to increase in volume, before fans are once again allowed to talk about the game itself when the season kicks-off on August 17.

Cesc Fabregas, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale have all been touted in the tabloids as fancying a move away from their current clubs in favour of something a little more financially cuddly, but this isn’t the case everywhere.

At Fulham the transfer talk has taken a decidedly different shape and has instead been focused on their new owner, 62-year-old Shahid Khan and of course the future of that tasteful statue of Michael Jackson.

Wishing to subvert what’s expected when a club reveals a new owner, the interest during Khan’s unveiling at Fulham focused on Al Fayed’s decision to wear a comedy moustache in support of his replacement’s facial fuzz and the future presence of Michael Jackson.

Fans are usually more concerned with what new arrival is going to grace the field on the season’s opening day, but over in lovely leafy west London, the priorities seem a little different.

“It’s a monument, listed. If he dares to move it he will be in big trouble!” blurted Al Fayed when asked about the long-term future of the club’s odd ode to the king of pop.

“I’ve been an owner less than a day. We have to preserve and respect history but we have to move forward” replied a befuddled Khan, before adding. “I’ll reflect on it and listen to the fans, then decide.”

Al Fayed claimed that “I wouldn’t pass this club to any junkie” when referring to Khan, who bought NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars in December 2011, proving he’s lost none of his sparkle and that his unorthodox vetting has ensured Fulham should be in good hands, which will reassure fans and those betting on soccer online.

As with much of his tenure though, Al Fayed once again stole the show with his effervescent personality, along with his fondness for the camera and a bombastic quote, but this projection of himself has faded, as the 84-year-old has mellowed and become less of a tabloid presence in recent years at Fulham.

And so fans could well be relieved to see a new and younger man at the helm, who has yet to admit any allegiance to a world renowned pop star and seems optimistic for the club’s future.

“It’s a very special place” said Khan. “This is the perfect club for me at a perfect time. It’s the passing of the baton, taking it to the next level.”

While fans will surely be relishing the prospect of a new dawn and new players to put them on a par with the league rivals, they will be reminded of Al Fayed’s tenure by Jacko’s peculiar presence.

But, while it’d be easy to remember the Egyptian as an amusing and outspoken cartoon-like character with a fondness for tacky statues, it’s also worth remembering Fulham could still be battling in the third tier if it wasn’t for his fondness for the unusual.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Adam Stone

Tags: , Premier League

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