Shahid Khan has said that he “cannot rule out” revisiting the opportunity to buy Wembley Stadium after it emerged yesterday (Wednesday) that the US businessman had dropped his takeover bid for the London venue.
Yesterday’s announcement from the English Football Association came after the governing body last week held what it described as a “healthy discussion” over Khan’s takeover offer.
A special meeting had been scheduled for later this month, when the body would have voted on the proposal from Khan, owner of Premier League club Fulham and NFL American football franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars. Khan’s offer, submitted back in April, was worth £600m (€673.6m/$786.2m) in cash and £300m in future revenue from Wembley’s hospitality business.
In a statement released following the FA’s announcement, Khan explained his reasoning for withdrawing the bid and suggested he would be open to returning to the table with a new offer should circumstances change.
“I’ve been clear publicly as well as in my correspondence with the FA Council that it would require a proper partnership, with the full and enthusiastic commitment of all involved, to maximise the benefits to the FA and game of football by way of 100 per cent private ownership of Wembley Stadium,” Khan said in a statement reported by the Evening Standard newspaper.
“At this moment, following last week’s FA Council hearing, it appears there is no definitive mandate to sell Wembley and my current proposal, subsequently, would earn the backing of only a slim majority of the FA Council, well short of the conclusive margin that the FA chairman (Greg Clarke) has required.
“The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them. Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favoured by the FA chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.”
Khan added: “Until a time when it is evident there is an unmistakable directive from the FA to explore and close a sale, I am respectfully withdrawing my offer to purchase Wembley Stadium.
“I cannot rule out revisiting the opportunity at another time when perhaps the Football Association family is unified in its views on the opportunity. What is certain is seeing a proposal of this magnitude come to fruition would necessitate an extraordinary partnership, one capable of doing remarkable things for all of our respective constituents well into the future. That would require the partners getting off to a strong and promising start, and with opinions clearly split, that is not possible at this time.”
The matter has been subject to much discussion in recent months and Khan maintained that his bid was not a wasted endeavour.
“The journey was not without its rewards, as I have strengthened standing relationships while making new friends along the way,” he continued. “Wembley Stadium is indeed a national treasure, one I would care for and respect for generations.
“I recognise the passion many people have for Wembley and what it means to English football, and will be willing to re-engage with the FA on this matter under proper circumstances.
“In the meantime, I thank the FA for its consideration and as it continues to deliberate the potential of private ownership of Wembley Stadium, I trust it will own and operate Wembley in a manner that will provide exceptional service to players, guests and the development of football in England.”