Shahid Khan: Wembley could be mine in three months
Fulham owner has outline agreement with Football Association
Fulham and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan hopes to complete the purchase of Wembley Stadium in the next three months.
The Football Association announced on Thursday it had “received an offer” to buy the 90,000-seater stadium, which was completed in 2007 at a reported cost of £800million.
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 national stadium could be his by August.
The Jaguars have played 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 NFL franchise.
He told Press Association Sport: “I think it’s something that we’ve thought about for a while and it just makes good sense for all parties concerned at this point.
“So, why Wembley? Because of the Jaguars, the first stadium I went to in Britain was Wembley and obviously 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.
“I think for us, it’s very important. We’ve been playing a game in London for the last five years.
“For us, it’s very important because 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, so it’s very important.
“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.
“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.
“I think that can be done in the next eight weeks or so. That ties up with the World Cup schedule.
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
“So, you know, early fall, like August, maybe two to three months from now, is what we’re targeting for a full close.”
When asked whether English football’s showpiece events – such as the League Cup and the FA Cup finals – will continue to be held at the stadium, Khan said: “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.”
Khan stressed that 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.
Chair of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust, Tom Greatrex, believes it is important talk of Khan’s offer does not distract the club as they attempt to secure promotion to the Premier League.
He said in a statement: “During his time as chairman of Fulham to date, Shahid Khan has reiterated his understanding of and appreciation for the importance of Craven Cottage, its heritage and identity to the character of Fulham Football Club.
“It is important that is not diminished if his bid for Wembley is successful.
“At a time when we are enjoying an exciting second half and climax to the season, playing some superlative football, nobody associated with Fulham will want to be distracted by questions of future grounds, the approved plans for a new Riverside Stand and ultimately the ownership of the club.”