The English Football Association has today (Thursday) received an offer from Shahid Khan to buy London’s Wembley Stadium.
Specifics of the offer have not been revealed but according to UK newspaper The Guardian, Khan, who owns NFL American football team the Jacksonville Jaguars, has offered about £500m (€574m/$700m) for the stadium, with the FA to retain rights to Club Wembley, the venue’s debenture and hospitality business which is said to be worth around £300m.
The deal would allow the FA to pay off debts relating to the redevelopment of Wembley, which reopened in 2007 following a £700m regeneration project that transformed the old stadium into a 90,000-capacity venue. The offer would also allow the FA to invest significantly in grassroots football.
Should the offer be accepted, Wembley would retain hosting rights to the semi-finals and final of the FA Cup. The Guardian added that the FA would prefer the ‘Wembley’ moniker to be retained in some capacity in the event of a naming-rights deal being signed for the venue.
Khan also owns London-based Championship football club Fulham and he has insisted that the club’s future at Craven Cottage would remain unaffected should his Wembley offer be accepted.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, currently have a multi-year deal in place to play NFL games in London through the annual International Series and Khan, in a statement published on Fulham’s website, said ownership of Wembley would make sense for all parties.
“The Jaguars have played regular season home games at Wembley Stadium in each of the past five NFL seasons and will continue to do so at least through the 2020 season,” Khan said. “The games the Jaguars play at Wembley are essential to the financial stability of the Jaguars in Jacksonville, which is one of the smallest markets in the NFL.
“If my ownership interests were to include Wembley Stadium, it would protect the Jaguars’ position in London at a time when other NFL teams are understandably becoming more interested in this great city. And the stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville.
“As important, Wembley Stadium would return to private ownership and the Football Association would be able to focus on its core mission of developing players with the best player developers and facilities anywhere in the game, thanks in part to the vast financial benefit that would result from the transaction.
“I trust many if not most of you (Fulham fans) are also supporters of the England national teams, so I hope you welcome the potential of this becoming a reality. Always know Wembley would be home to the England national teams, and that we would strive every day of the year to be the best possible steward for a venue that is iconic and beloved here and throughout the world.”
Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice-president of events and international, has backed Khan’s offer. “We are very happy for Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars,” he said. “The potential purchase of Wembley Stadium is a further powerful sign of their commitment to the UK and their vision to help us grow the sport.
“Having stadium options in London has always been critical to the NFL and, in tandem with our 10-year partnership with Tottenham Hotspur, this new relationship would allow for even greater flexibility in scheduling future NFL games in London.”
Wembley will host TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Summit on November 13-14 this year.
Image: M(e)ister Eiskalt