‘English football is sacred’, says Khan as he launches bid to buy Wembley
The FA announced on Thursday it had “received an offer” to buy Wembley.
Fulham and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan insists English football will remain the priority for Wembley if his offer to buy the national stadium from the Football Association is accepted.
The FA announced on Thursday it had “received an offer” to buy Wembley, with Khan confirming his intention to purchase the 90,000-seater stadium.
An outline agreement between billionaire Khan and FA chief executive Martin Glenn is said to already be in place and the 67-year-old is hopeful the stadium could be his by August.
The Jaguars have played NFL regular season home games at Wembley in each of the past five campaigns and Khan believes securing a deal for the stadium is “very important” for the Jacksonville outfit, but he insists English football will come first.
Shahid Khan confirmed cup finals would stay at Wembley as part of his deal along with England games - "that's part & parcel of the legacy" - and said there is "definitely opportunity for more utilisation" at the stadium— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) April 26, 2018
When asked whether showpiece events – such as the League Cup and the FA Cup finals – would continue to be held at the stadium, Khan told Press Association Sport: “I absolutely see that continuing at Wembley.
“That is part and parcel of the legacy and the history is football.
“It generates revenue for the FA, so that is part of the package in the assets the FA would retain, and they would be played at Wembley.
“English football is sacred and that’s the priority. We would have NFL after that and then look at other avenues to use the stadium.”
Khan added: “So, why Wembley? Because of the Jaguars, the first stadium I went to in Britain was Wembley and I’ve admired it, love it and I think to assure, from my viewpoint, future scheduled games for Jaguars and other NFL teams it makes sense.
“For us, it’s very important. We’ve been playing a game in London for the last five years.
“We’re the smallest team in the NFL and we look for our annual game to give us the exposure and also build the fanbase.
“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, etc.
“So, it’s just that intersection of the interests where it makes sense.”
Khan would like to complete the purchase in the next three months.
“I am speaking for myself, this is very fresh, so (we need to do) the due diligence to really identify what new investment would be needed and confirm all the structural aspects,” he said.
“I think that can be done in the next eight weeks or so. That ties up with the World Cup schedule. So early fall, like August, maybe two to three months from now, is what we’re targeting for a full close.”
Khan stressed the proposed purchase would not result in Fulham moving away from Craven Cottage, writing an open letter to fans to allay any concerns over his commitment.
“It will have no impact on Craven Cottage as the home of Fulham,” he said.