London - The
Football Association have received an offer to buy iconic Wembley
stadium in a shock move that increases the chances of an NFL team taking
up permanent residence in London.
Shahid Khan, who owns Championship club Fulham and the NFL's
Jacksonville Jaguars, is behind the £500 million bid to
buy the national stadium and he hopes to complete his purchase within
According to the Evening Standard, Khan has struck an outline
agreement with FA boss Martin Glenn to transfer Wembley to foreign
ownership for the first time.
Asked when he thought the sale could be completed, Khan said: "Early
fall, like August, maybe two to three months from now, is what we're
targeting for a full close."
The stunning proposal, which would also see Khan allow the FA to keep
lucrative debenture and hospitality revenue worth around £300 million,
was put before the full board of the domestic game's governing body on
"We can confirm that the FA has received an offer to buy Wembley Stadium," an FA statement read.
Wembley, which has a 90 000-capacity, was reopened in 2007 after the
FA's seven-year, £757 million rebuild of the home of English football.
The flamboyant Khan is a Pakistan-born American billionaire, who made his fortune in the car parts business.
"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," Khan said.
"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.
"From the FA's viewpoint, they get to keep the key assets which are
the English football games and then also have money for massive
investment in grassroots, English football pitches.
"It's just that intersection of the interests where it makes sense."
Khan's approach is a further sign of the NFL's desire to build on the
foothold they have established in the British sports market.
Regular-season NFL matches have been played at Wembley since 2007,
with Khan's Jaguars featuring as the 'home' team on several occasions.
It is widely believed that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is keen to place a permanent team in London in the near future.
Tottenham already have a deal with the NFL to stage a minimum of two
games a season over 10 years once their new stadium in north London is
completed later this year.
The Premier League club have played their home games at Wembley this season, but will move out once White Hart Lane is rebuilt.
Khan insisted the England national team would still be able to use
Wembley as their home venue, while the FA and League Cup finals would
also continue to be played there.
"We are very happy for Shahid Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars," the NFL said in a statement.
"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
"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."
It is believed the FA are considering the deal because the money
raised would be ring-fenced for investment in grass-roots programmes
they feel are essential for football's future in the United Kingdom.
One report says Glenn believes the sale would pay for 1 500 new full-sized all-weather artificial pitches across Britain.
The current version of Wembley, famous for its iconic arch, replaced
the original venue, which was renowned for its twin towers on one side
of the stadium.
Wembley has staged the FA Cup final since the old stadium opened in
1923 and has hosted some of football's most celebrated matches,
including England's 1966 World Cup final victory and seven European Cup