Wembley sold: FA to sell home of football to Fulham and NFL owner Shahid Khan in stunning £1billion deal

The FA Board today heard the proposals for a deal worth around £1billion for the national stadium, which opened in 2007.


American billionaire Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars in the National Football League, will pay £600m up front, while the FA could gross another £400m from match day revenue.

The plans will see the FA keeping Wembley as the main home for major matches, including England internationals and the FA Cup Final.

But the national team could be forced to go “on the road” around the country in October and November once the deal is approved due to clashes with the NFL season.

FA bosses plan to plough £500m into grass roots projects around the country, allowing them to pay for hundreds of new 3G and 4G pitches.





Chief executive Martin Glenn believes the extra funds will revolutionise the lowest levels of the game in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

But traditionalists are likely to be scandalised at the FA “selling off the game’s Crown Jewels” after nearly two decades in which Wembley has drained the governing body’s resources.


WHO IS SHAHID KHAN? From $1.20 dollar an hour dishwasher to billionaire Wembley owner


If the deal is confirmed – likely to take months – the FA would no longer have any involvement in the day to day operation of the stadium, which cost a stunning £757m after the old Wembley was knocked down in 2000.

Khan plans to move his NFL franchise to Wembley, where it would become the first outside the USA, would also take all the revenue from the host of concert and conference events held at the stadium.

That would impact on the FA’s ability to host England’s autumn games at Wembley, during the NFL season, meaning the Three Lions could be forced to go “on the road” around the country.

The stunning move will cause anger among traditionalists, although the FA has only owned the site since 1999 and for 19 of the 95 years Wembley has existed.

Glenn and the FA will pledge to ring-fence half of the estimated revenues – £500m – in an endowment fund specifically for future grass roots projects, allowing the body to prioritise its focus on improving the game at all levels.


The FA believes the English game as a whole would gain more from that investment than by keeping hold of the bricks and mortar of the stadium.

It is understood that the FA would still receive the “Club Wembley” revenues from a fixed number of event dates, guaranteeing future funds in addition to the initial lump sum.


WEMBLEY Q&A What does £1billion sell-off mean for England, Chelsea and the NFL?


Khan is happy to provide guarantees over access to the venue outside the NFL window and is understood to have agreed the ground will still be known as “Wembley Stadium”.

Florida-based Khan, 67, who was born in Lahore and has joint Pakistani and US citizenship, is keen to keep flagship football events at Wembley.

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

MARK WALLER, NFL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT OF EVENTS AND INTERNATIONAL – OFFICIAL STATEMENT

"We are very happy for Shad 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."

If the deal does go through, it will have no impact on the 2020 European Championships, in which seven games, including both semi-finals and the final, have been scheduled for Wembley.

Khan has no plans to move Fulham to Wembley and is currently engaged in a rebuilding project at Craven Cottage.

The deal would also see the FA offices staying on the Wembley site, which would remain the administrative headquarters of the game.

Privately, senior FA figures feel the deal is one they cannot turn down because of the positive knock-on effects to the English game as a whole.




It will also see an end to the time-consuming debates about the stadium which have caused serious issues over the past 19 years.

Today was the first time the details have been presented to the Board although Glenn and Khan have been in contact for some time to fine-tune the potential agreement.

The FA expects that concerns will be raised and the scale of the deal ensures there must be due diligence and legal issues overcome before any agreement is confirmed.

But there is expectation that the positives will be seen to outweigh the negatives to such an extent that opposition within the FA will swiftly evaporate and Khan could be the new Wembley owner before the end of the year.

SHAHID KHAN – From earning just $1.20-an-hour to buying Wembley

  • Khan was born in Pakistan in July 1950
  • The billionaire’s dad fathered over 50-plus children and was married seven times
  • Khan left his home country for the US in 1967 and washed dishes for $1.20-an-hour while studying Industrial Engineering at the University of Illnois
  • He started work for a car parts company in 1971 but left to start his own called Bumper Gate seven years later. The success of that saw him return to buy his previous employers, Flex-N-Gate, two years later
  • Over a 30 year period, Khan built up the company from local to worldwide supplier, cleverly cornering the lucrative Toyota market and expanding throughout the 1990s and 2000s
  • With his new-found wealth, Khan’s first attempt at going into the NFL with a 60 per cent bid for the St Louis Rams was rejected. A year later he bought Jacksonville Jaguars for $760m
  • In 2013 he bought Fulham from Mohamed Al Fayad for a figure between £150m-£200m
  • Khan and his wife Ann have two children named Tony and Shanna
  • His net worth is now $7.9billion and he is the 158th wealthiest man in the world

From Twin Towers to the Arch for £757m

Dec 1996
Wembley selected as preferred site by Sport England for new national stadium.

Nov 1998
Project handed £120m lottery funding by Sport England.

Sept 2002
Old stadium demolished as government stumps up £20m in return for more control. WSNL secures £433m in bank loans for a project with revised cost of £757m.

Oct 2002
Construction finally begins on new Wembley Stadium.

March 2007
Work is finally completed at total cost around £1billion – over twice the £458m price quoted. Multiplex make £150m losses, later suing engineering consultants.

May 2007
Football  returns to Wembley after almost seven years. Didier Drogba's extra-time winner gives Chelsea 1-0 victory over Manchester United in FA Cup final.

 

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