FA receives bid to buy Wembley Stadium

by Garry Watts April 27, 2018, 5:12
FA receives bid to buy Wembley Stadium

It emerged today the headquarters of English football could be sold in a £500million deal to Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham Football Club.

The FA would retain ownership of the Club Wembley debenture and hospitality business, worth an estimated around £300m (€344m), and the England national football team would continue to play major fixtures at the stadium. Most of their global games would still be played at the feted venue, but games falling throughout the NFL's autumn season would be played elsewhere.

English football officials were tight-lipped on details publicly, saying only that "the FA has received an offer to buy Wembley Stadium".

Khan further stressed that the potential move would not see his current club Fulham relocate to the national stadium, but that "this venture is 100 per cent independent" of the west London club.

Khan's move to buy Wembley is understood to be focused on strengthening the Jacksonville Jaguars' standing in the UK.

"Khan has invested a lot in the areas around the National Football League stadium in Jacksonville with plans to develop even more around it, so it would be millions of dollars down the drain if the ultimate plan was simply to rip the team away as all of that comes to fruition".

"We are very happy for Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars", NFL executive vice president of events and global Mark Waller said in a statement. Over the past several years, it became clearer to us and the FA that the idea of our purchase of Wembley Stadium made a lot of sense for all of us.

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The Jaguars play one "home" game each season in London, an agreement that extends through the 2020 season and began in 2013.

Schwab, writer for Yahoo's "Shutdown Corner" NFL blog, said: 'The NFL has always been interested in expanding its presence to London, and the Jaguars have been the team most often rumored to be the team most likely to go to London.

But, according to the FA's latest financial results, it still owes £113m to public bodies such as Sport England, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, plus the London Development Agency, which helped pay to build the stadium, which cost £757m and opened in 2007.

With Twickenham last year and Tottenham's new stadium also set to host National Football League matches when it opens as part of a 10-year agreement, it seems a matter of when not if a franchise comes to London - and Khan's proposed Wembley purchase would put the Jaguars in pole position.

It so happens that Wembley is located in a part of London with a huge Indian-origin population.

"I understand the responsibility and accountability that would be ours to accept, and at all times we will be guided so the stadium and Wembley brand are both protected and enhanced".

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