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Fulham Day 1: Khan faces Michael Jackson questions
Question of the Day
On his first full day running the London club, the trickiest questions Khan had to face were not about the cash available for new players, or goals for the upcoming season.
Yes, the late “King of Pop.”
Now that the Cottagers have been sold, might the statue be removed?
“I’ve been an owner less than a day,” he said, searching for a diplomatic response. “We have to preserve and respect history, but we have to move forward. I’ll reflect on it and listen to the fans, then decide.”
There’s no decision to be made, according to Al Fayed.
“Michael Jackson will stay _ it’s part of the deal,” the Egyptian said, before adding with Khan in ear-shot: “Are you listening to me about Michael Jackson? You promise now? Otherwise … I will take your moustache off.”
The moustache has been Khan’s trademark since 1972 as he built his fortune in the automotive industry after moving to the U.S. from Pakistan. He bought the Jaguars in 2011 and now Fulham in a deal thought to be worth more than $200 million.
As Fayed bid farewell to the club he took from the third tier into the Premier League, the former owner of the Harrods department store donned a fake moustache to pose for pictures with Khan on a day of rare scorching heat in London.
But it was the NFL that first enabled Khan to establish a sporting bond with London. The Jaguars will play regular- season games at Wembley Stadium for four consecutive seasons starting with an Oct. 27 meeting against the San Francisco 49ers.
Khan’s takeover means six of the 20 current Premier League clubs have American ownership, including four with links to NFL teams.
Aston Villa’s Randy Lerner sold the Cleveland Browns last year, the family of Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke own the St. Louis Rams and the Glazer family controls both Manchester United and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“They have a right to express themselves,” Khan said. “But on the other hand, I think the world of the Glazers. I think they have done a great job with Man U, so there might be a little difference of opinion.”
“Certainly Jacksonville coming to London, that helps getting sponsors, but I’d love for Fulham to come to Jacksonville,” he said, speaking beneath midfielder Kerim Frei’s jersey.
Khan avoided making any lavish claims about how much of his fortune _ estimated by Forbes magazine to be $2.9 billion _ will be invested.
There were also no outlandish targets set for manager Martin Jol, whose tean finished 12th this year in its 12th consecutive season in the Premier League.
“Virtually everyone on the football side has been replaced, along with over half of our roster,” Lamping said. “When you don’t achieve to the level you expect … you owe it to your fans who have made an emotional commitment to your team to make changes.”
“Give them the resources, allow them to make decisions, then hold them accountable,” Lamping said.
Rob Harris can be reached at www.twitter.com/RobHarris
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