Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has made an offer to buy Wembley Stadium from the English Football Association, increasing the prospect of an NFL franchise in London.
Wembley has staged regular-season NFL games since 2007 and the Jaguars started playing at the stadium in 2013 — the year Khan bought London soccer club Fulham.
Khan offered about 600 million pounds ($840 million) for the national soccer stadium, which would continue to host England national team games. The governing body would retain the rights to hospitality packages for games, which are valued at 300 million pounds.
Wembley, which first opened 1923, was rebuilt at a cost of 800 million pounds before reopening in 2007. The Jaguars have deal through 2020 to play games in London.
“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,” Khan said. “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.”
Khan said a takeover of Wembley would “have no impact on Craven Cottage,” which is his soccer team’s current home in the Fulham district of west London by the River Thames.
Selling off Wembley would give the FA about 500 million pounds to invest in grassroots soccer, which could increase the chances of the England team winning its first World Cup title since 1996.
“For the FA,” Khan saids, “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.”