After months of speculation, a potential sale of Wembley Stadium came to a halt Wednesday, when Shad Khan announced that he was withdrawing his offer.
Khan’s intention to buy Wembley from England’s Football Association first became public earlier this year. The idea of Khan buying the venue carried some intrigue, given his business background—including ownership of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham F.C—and the NFL’s ongoing efforts to expand its presence in London.
While a permanent move of the Jaguars to London never seemed to be in play, Khan could have used Wembley Stadium for NFL games—the Jaguars have played there annually since 2013—along with English football and other events. For the NFL, it would have meant that one of its owners controlled one of London’s most prominent venues, further entrenching its place in the city.
However, the sale will not go forward, as Khan announced Wednesday that he was withdrawing his offer of £600 million (just under $790 million in American dollars). Some FA councilors were not in favor of the sale, preventing a true consensus in favor of Khan’s purchase. More from the BBC:
FA executives made a presentation to the FA Council last week about why they were backing the sale to Khan, and the 127 council members were scheduled to vote on the proposed sale on 24 October.
But a senior FA source told BBC Sport that the board believed the odds were slightly against the purchase being backed, given the strong objections of some councillors to the home of English football being sold off.
FA chief executive Glenn said Khan had believed his offer “would be well received by all football stakeholders”.
However, Glenn added: “At a recent meeting with Mr Khan he expressed to us that, without stronger support from within the game, his offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and he has decided to withdraw his proposal.
Khan is not ruling out the idea of revisiting of purchasing Wembley Stadium down the road, as he indicated in a statement. “I cannot rule out revisiting the opportunity at another time when perhaps the Football Association family is unified in its views on the opportunity,” he said in a portion of a statement. “What is certain is seeing a proposal of this magnitude come to fruition would necessitate an extraordinary partnership, one capable of doing remarkable things for all of our respective constituents well into the future. That would require the partners getting off to a strong and promising start, and with opinions clearly split, that is not possible at this time.”
As far as the NFL’s standing in London is concerned, the sport seems likely to continue efforts to make inroads there. Three games are being played there this fall, with more on the way in the coming years, and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will bolster the NFL’s presence there once it opens.
Image courtesy Wembley Stadium.
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