The owner of Fulham FC has made an offer to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association.
The offer is thought to be for around £500m in cash, and would allow the FA to continue to operate Club Wembley, a contract valued at around £300m. The stadium cost cost £757m to build and opened in 2007 after a number of well-publicised cost-overruns.
While there appears to be no plan for Fulham to move from Craven Cottage, it has been reported that Khan feels having Chelsea play home games at Wembley, which is the plan for the time they are redeveloping Stamford Bridge, would be incompatible with increased NFL usage.
In a statement on the Fulham FC website, Shahid 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.”
He also said he remained committed to Fulham, who have just secured planning approval for a new stand and capacity expansion: “I want to emphatically state … that none of this will have any effect on my commitment to (Fulham FC).To be clear, this venture is 100 per cent independent of my investment in and operation of Fulham Football Club, Motspur Park and Craven Cottage.”
Khan said that if the FA accepted his offer: “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.”
“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.”
In a statement in Jacksonville, he added: “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.
“Our commitment to the FA is we will own and operate Wembley with the care and respect it deserves, always being mindful that it is – and will continue to be – the home of England’s national teams as well as the ultimate destination for the world’s top entertainment and sports event, including Jaguars and NFL games.”
He sought to dispel the persistent rumour that the Jacksonville NFL franchise will on day relocate to London, saying: “Today’s news changes none of what we envision for the long-term promise for the Jaguars here in Jax, and it changes nothing as to the goals we have for your downtown. If anything, today’s news is the embodiment of the ethos we adopted several years ago of being proud, bold and committed. We look forward to the process ahead with The Football Association.”