FA poised to sell Wembley Stadium in £800m deal with England to take home games on the road

Billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of Fulham and NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars, has tabled an offer believed to be over £500m up front for the headquarters of English football

Friday 27 April 2018 07:03
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FA poised to sell Wembley Stadium in £800m deal with England set to go on the road

The Football Association are ready to sell Wembley Stadium in an astonishing £800m deal.

Billionaire American Shahid Khan, owner of Championship side Fulham and NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars, has tabled an offer believed to be over £500m up front for the headquarters of English football in a deal that would see the national teams go on the road.

The England team would still stage the majority of their home games at the stadium but a large portion of their annual schedule, particularly during the autumn, would be moved elsewhere under the proposals.

It is suggested that the FA will use the windfall to revitalise the grassroots game with the governing body flushed with the financial capacity to pay for hundreds of new 3G and 4G pitches as well as other new facilities.

Tottenham have played their home games at Wembley this season

An FA spokesman said: “We can confirm the FA Board has received an offer for Wembley.”

Florida-based Khan, who is worth upwards of £5.2bn, has been a long-time proponent of a UK-based NFL team and this move would be the expected precursor to a franchise making the move across the pond sometime in the future.

He said: "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.

"In every respect, the Jaguars’ standing in London would be improved and dramatically enhanced if we are fortunate to be approved as the new owner and steward of Wembley Stadium, and that’s good news for the Jaguars and all of Jacksonville."

He added: "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."

The Jaguars have played one regular season game in London every year since 2013 but should this deal be closed and a switch here comes to fruition then they would take up residency at the stadium between September and January.

Khan has been a long-time proponent of a UK-based NFL team (Getty)

During that time period the England football team would have to move home matches elsewhere in a move that is likely to draw criticism from traditionalists.

The NFL have welcomed the move with vice-president of events and international Mark Waller saying: “We are very happy for Shahid Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars. 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 sport.

“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.”

The move will be considered a huge blow to Tottenham's hopes of housing a permanent NFL team in their multimillion new home in the future while Chelsea's plans to use Wembley as a temporary home while Stamford Bridge is renovated could be affected.

The Jaguars have played a regular season game at Wembley every year since 2013

There is no suggestion that Fulham would use the stadium and were last month given planning permission to redevelop Craven Cottage.

The FA are set to keep the rights to the Club Wembley side of the business, worth an estimated £300m, with the deal subject to due diligence and will likely take months to complete.

The move is set to draw a line under the FA's day-to-day involvement in the stadium having paid some £757m to build it following the demolition of the old Wembley back in 2000.

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