Could a London-based NFL team actually happen? With news that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has made a sensational bid of US$700m to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association it is looking more likely than ever.
American billionaire Khan, who owns the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and English soccer side Fulham FC, has reportedly struck an outline agreement with the England FA chief executive Martin Glenn, which would potentially pave the way for the first overseas-based team in the NFL.
According to the Evening Standard “a sale is also likely to result in fewer England internationals being hosted at the 92,000-capacity north London venue – particularly during the NFL season in the autumn. However, it would not threaten Wembley’s status as the England team’s home for all major fixtures.”
A report in The Sun newspaper claims the bid is a done deal where “the FA is ready to accept £600m up front” and that it “could gross another £400m from matchday revenue” as it would still retain ticket rights for events held at the venue and use the funds generated from the sale to put into grassroots football and install artificial pitches around the country.
It is understood that the FA would have to find alternative venues for international matches should they clash with the NFL schedule.
The question remains as to what impact this has on Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, which has been specifically designed with a retractable pitch to host NFL matches. An agreement was signed by Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy and the NFL in 2015 for the north London venue to host NFL matches for the next 10 years. However, with a potential relocation of the Florida-based Jaguars to the UK capital, there could be a conflict of interest.
There could also be a knock-on effect for English Premier League side Chelsea FC who were planning to move into Wembley Stadium during planned redevelopment of its own home ground Stamford Bridge.
It is understood Khan has no intention of moving Fulham FC into Wembley on any permanent basis, even if the club does have future plans to redevelop its aging Craven Cottage.
Full statement from Shahid Khan:
I am very pleased to learn today that The Football Association board of directors received our offer to purchase Wembley Stadium, our home away from home in London, from the FA.
One of the many benefits of the Jaguars’ commitment to London has been our partnership with the FA and Wembley Stadium. 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.
For the FA, it would mean Wembley Stadium returning to private ownership, permitting the FA to direct its full attention to its mandate to develop talent and serve the game with the vast resources it would realize from the sale. For the Jaguars, it would deliver another – and very significant – asset and local revenue source that would further strengthen our investment in London, which as everyone knows is crucial to the Jaguars’ continued sustainability in Jacksonville. 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.
If you’ve had the occasion to join us for one of our Jaguars home games in London, you know that Wembley Stadium is a very special place. 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. And today’s announcement is additional evidence that we are committed to create and enhance new revenue streams to boost the Jaguars, such as the incredibly successful Daily’s Place and the project we revealed last week with The Cordish Companies on the proposed development around EverBank Field.
Today’s news changes none of what we envision for the long-term promise for the Jaguars here in Jax, and it changes nothing as to the goals we have for your downtown. If anything, today’s news is the embodiment of the ethos we adopted several years ago of being proud, bold and committed.
We look forward to the process ahead with The Football Association.
April 26, 2018