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Jul 13, 2013

Khan faces Michael Jackson questions

LONDON -- Standing on Fulham's pitch next to the River Thames, Shad Khan quickly discovered that the issues Premier League owners must tackle extend far beyond football.

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.

The pressing issue locally Saturday for the owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars was about Michael Jackson.

Yes, the late "King of Pop."

A statue of Jackson sits outside Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium, commissioned after the star's death in 2009 by Mohamed Al Fayed in one of the most contentious decisions of his 18-year ownership.

Now that the Cottagers have been sold, might the statue be removed?

Khan hesitated.

"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.

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