US businessman Shahid Khan has today (Wednesday) dropped his takeover bid for Wembley Stadium, stating that his offer has proved more divisive than expected.

The announcement from the English Football Association today comes after the governing body last week said a “healthy discussion” was staged over Khan’s takeover offer ahead of a special meeting scheduled for later this month that was due to vote on the proposal.

The 127-member FA Council met on Thursday to hear from senior FA executives as to why they were backing the proposal from Khan, owner of Premier League club Fulham and NFL American football franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Khan’s offer was worth £600m (€673.6m/$786.2m) in cash and £300m in future revenue from Wembley’s hospitality business. He submitted an offer for Wembley back in April, and negotiations had since been held over the terms of the deal.

 FA chief executive Martin Glenn said today: “Earlier this year, the FA received an unsolicited official offer from Shahid Khan to buy Wembley Stadium. It was a very credible offer and was given very serious consideration. Shahid Khan has informed us today that he will be withdrawing his offer to buy the stadium – and we fully respect his decision.

“Mr Khan believed that his offer to buy Wembley Stadium would release funds to help improve community football facilities in England and that it would be well received by all football stakeholders. At a recent meeting with Mr Khan he expressed to us that, without stronger support from within the game, his offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and has decided to withdraw his proposal.”

Under the terms of any agreed deal, Wembley Stadium would have needed to retain its original moniker, while the FA would have held final sign off on any potential London-based NFL franchise being based at the stadium. The Jaguars play their latest annual Wembley game against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 28 and have long been linked to a permanent move to the English capital.

The FA Council was scheduled to vote on the potential sale at a meeting on October 24. Among the issues reportedly discussed at last week’s meeting was ensuring protections were in place “to ensure its (Wembley’s) status as the national stadium”. The FA board was said to be keen to secure a clear mandate for the takeover to go ahead, with reports that this wouldn’t be achieved due to the strong objections of some councillors.

Glenn added today: “Wembley Stadium is an iconic venue that is revered around world and it will continue to thrive under the ownership and direction of the FA. There has been much deliberation on both sides of this debate and it has undoubtedly raised awareness of the issue that community football facilities in England need significant investment.

“We would like to thank the football stakeholders, Government, FA Board and Council members for their collaborative approach throughout this process. We will continue to work together to identify new and innovative ways of investing in community football facilities in the future.”

Image: Kolforn