Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of Fulham and the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars claims his bid to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association will not affect the ‘spirit and essence’ of English football’ spiritual home.
Khan, who is worth an estimated £5.2billion, is prepared to fund a deal worth an estimated £800million which could eventually see the Jaguars relocate and become London‘s first permanent NFL team.
Such a move would serve to dilute the stadium’s position as the home of the English national team, but Khan insists he understands the responsibility that comes with owning the 90,000-seat arena and guarantees that its brand will not be damaged.
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In a statement released on Wednesday, Khan said: ‘I’ve enjoyed a rewarding relationship with The Football Association for years and my more recent exchanges and time spent with Martin Glenn have served to further strengthen a connection with the FA that made it natural and ultimately possible for both parties to consider this transaction.
‘Working with Martin and his team has been a pleasure and clearly productive. Should we be fortunate to close on the purchase, it’s important to stress that the spirit and essence of Wembley would be unchanged. Wembley is a special place, beloved in London and known throughout the world.
‘I understand the responsibility and accountability that would be ours to accept, and at all times we will be guided so the stadium and Wembley brand are both protected and enhanced.
‘We will take excellent care of Wembley Stadium in every respect, and at all times be good citizens and neighbours here in London and beyond.
‘I am grateful for all of my experiences and investments in London, and am privileged to have this opportunity with the FA to forge an agreement that I am certain will be a victory for everyone.’
Khan is known by Fulham fans already after buying the west London club back in 2013
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In a further statement issued on Fulham’s official website, Khan insisted his bid to buy Wembley Stadium would remain completely independent from his ownership of the west London club, and is part of a plan to secure the Jaguars’ position in London.
He said: ‘It was revealed today that I have made an offer to purchase Wembley Stadium from the Football Association. To everyone in the Fulham family, I wanted you to be among the first to hear the news, directly from me, and share a bit of background.
‘As you likely know, in addition to the privilege of serving as chairman of Fulham Football Club, I am also owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League in the US. The Jaguars have played regular season home games at Wembley Stadium in each of the past five NFL seasons and will continue to do so at least through the 2020 season.
‘The games the Jaguars play at Wembley are essential to the financial stability of the Jaguars in Jacksonville, which is one of the smallest markets in the NFL.
‘If my ownership interests were to include Wembley Stadium, it would protect the Jaguars’ position in London at a time when other NFL teams are understandably becoming more interested in this great city. And the stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville.
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‘As important, Wembley Stadium would return to private ownership and the Football Association would be able to focus on its core mission of developing players with the best player developers and facilities anywhere in the game, thanks in part to the vast financial benefit that would result from the transaction.
‘I trust many if not most of you are also supporters of the England national teams, so I hope you welcome the potential of this becoming a reality. Always know Wembley would be home to the England national teams, and that we would strive every day of the year to be the best possible steward for a venue that is iconic and beloved here and throughout the world.
‘No matter what the outcome of our offer may be, I want to emphatically state to you that none of this will have any effect on my commitment to your club.
‘To be clear, this venture is 100 per cent independent of my investment in and operation of Fulham Football Club, Motspur Park and Craven Cottage. No less attention will be paid to developing players and fielding a squad that will win with frequency and always make you proud.
Ticket revenue for matches the FA holds at the stadium would stay with them, not with Khan
‘It will have no impact on Craven Cottage as the home of FFC. And this is imperative to know, and I encourage you to spread the word – absolutely nothing changes in our plans to redevelop the Riverside Stand.
‘I hope you will support my effort in this endeavour, and I know you’re with me in wishing our first team the very best tomorrow night against Sunderland as we take aim at promotion in the final two weekends of the season. I have submitted programme notes for tomorrow’s [Friday’s] match that reflect upon our magical campaign and the opportunity ahead, and I’ll have them posted online here at fulhamfc.com in advance of kick-off.
‘In case you don’t get a chance to read the notes, let me take this opportunity to thank you for all you’ve done to make this a record-breaking season at Fulham Football Club. Come On You Whites!’