The purchase of Wembley is a spectacular Hail Mary from Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner
Shahid Khan’s bid for Wembley is a spectacular move that should transform both forms of ‘football’ in this country.
This follows the news that the FA are ready to sell the home of English football for a monumental £800m to the billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of Championship side Fulham and NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars. The offer that has been laid out for the FA would see them pocket 500m upfront which they’ve vowed to put back into grassroots football.
If, and it’s a big IF, the FA follow through with this, it will breathe new life into the grassroots scene in this country, which despite the billions generate through the Premier League, has been greatly neglected and, in some regions, left to rot.
Does this mean that the national team would be homeless?
Yes and no, 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. If it goes through it would a shrewd move by the FA as they would also shun the costs of the Stadium onto the Jaguars but still be keeping the profits from all games held at Wembley.
1,500 artificial pitches across the country is not to be sniffed at and would allow for genuine long-term planning that will benefit the game over here for decades to come.
For the Jags, and the NFL as a whole, it’s the dream they’ve been seeking. In particular, this fits perfectly with the NFL’s commissioner Roger Goodell’s vision to make the brand a truly international league.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, is absolutely committed to having an ‘international league’ as his legacy and that begins with relocating a franchise to London – “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. This new relationship would allow for even greater flexibility in scheduling future NFL games in London.”
So Tottenham might not be delighted, and similarly Chelsea for the vision they have of their stadium redevelopment, as well as traditionalists who will believe no price should be put on the memories that Wembley has produced.
That aside, and with the bigger picture in mind, we’ve no doubt that, if this deal goes through, the vast majority will be thanking Shahid Khan for what he’s done to both forms of football in this country for decades to come.