Iconic Wembley Stadium Receives Purchase Offer

Wembley has staged the FA Cup final since the old stadium opened in 1923.Wembley has staged the FA Cup final since the old stadium opened in 1923.

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 club Fulham and the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, is behind the $698 million bid to buy the national stadium and he hopes to complete his purchase within three months, AFP reported.

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, 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 revenues worth around $414 million, was put before the full board of the domestic game’s governing body on Thursday.

“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 FA’s seven-year, $1.04 billion 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.

Khan’s approach is a further sign of 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. Khan insisted the England national team would still be able to use Wembley as home venue, while the FA and League Cup finals would also continue to be played there.

It is believed the FA is considering the deal because the money raised would be ring-fenced for investment in grassroots programs they feel are essential for football’s future in the UK.

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 finals.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints