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Fulham owner Shahid Khan: set to purchase Wembley Stadium?
Fulham owner Shahid Khan: set to purchase Wembley Stadium?

Fulham and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan hopes to complete the purchase of Wembley Stadium in the next three months.

The Football Association announced on Thursday it had "received an offer" to buy the 90,000-seater stadium, which was completed in 2007 at a reported cost of £800million.

An outline agreement between billionaire Khan and FA chief executive Martin Glenn is said to already be in place and the 67-year-old is hopeful the national stadium could be his by August.

The Jaguars have played regular season home games at Wembley in each of the past five campaigns and Khan believes securing a deal for the stadium is "very important" for the NFL franchise.

He told Press Association Sport: "I think it's something that we've thought about for a while and it just makes good sense for all parties concerned at this point.

"So, why Wembley? Because of the Jaguars, the first stadium I went to in Britain was Wembley and obviously I've admired it, love it and I think to assure, from my viewpoint, future scheduled games for Jaguars and other NFL teams it makes sense.

"I think for us, it's very important. We've been playing a game in London for the last five years.

"For us, it's very important because we're the smallest team in the NFL and we look for our annual game to give us the exposure and also build the fanbase, so it's very important.

"From the FA's viewpoint, they get to keep the key assets which are the English football games and then also have money for massive investment in grassroots, English football pitches, etc.

"So, it's just that intersection of the interests where it makes sense.

"I am speaking for myself, this is very fresh, so (we need to do) the due diligence to really identify what new investment would be needed and confirm all the structural aspects.

"I think that can be done in the next eight weeks or so. That ties up with the World Cup schedule.

"So, you know, early fall, like August, maybe two to three months from now, is what we're targeting for a full close."

When asked whether English football's showpiece events - such as the League Cup and the FA Cup finals - will continue to be held at the stadium, Khan said: "I absolutely see that continuing at Wembley.

"That is part and parcel of the legacy and the history is football.

"It generates revenue for the FA, so that is part of the package in the assets the FA would retain, and they would be played at Wembley."

Khan stressed that the proposed purchase would not result in Fulham moving away from Craven Cottage, writing an open letter to fans to allay any concerns over his commitment.

"It will have no impact on Craven Cottage as the home of Fulham," he said.

Chair of the Fulham Supporters' Trust, Tom Greatrex, believes it is important talk of Khan's offer does not distract the club as they attempt to secure promotion to the Premier League.

He said in a statement: "During his time as chairman of Fulham to date, Shahid Khan has reiterated his understanding of and appreciation for the importance of Craven Cottage, its heritage and identity to the character of Fulham Football Club.

"It is important that is not diminished if his bid for Wembley is successful.

"At a time when we are enjoying an exciting second half and climax to the season, playing some superlative football, nobody associated with Fulham will want to be distracted by questions of future grounds, the approved plans for a new Riverside Stand and ultimately the ownership of the club."

Wembley
Wembley

Wembley Stadium sale Q&A

Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the key questions behind the £500million bid from Fulham and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.

Why does Khan want to buy Wembley?

As well as owning Premier League hopefuls Fulham, Pakistan-born Khan is also determined to keep Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of the game in the NFL. The Jaguars have already established a strong presence in London through regular season matches being played at Wembley in front of sell-out crowds and have 'home' matches scheduled at least through to 2020. Khan says Wembley was the first stadium he visited in Britain and the purchase makes "good sense".

Does this mean Fulham are set for a new home if the deal goes through?

Not at all. Khan says Craven Cottage is a "jewel" and that there is "no impact" on his club. He has written to fans to say he remains committed to redeveloping the famous old stadium, rather than moving Fulham to Wembley.

What would the FA do with all that money?

Spend, spend, spend - on grass roots football, or at least that is what the initial indications would suggest. Completed in 2007 at a reported cost of £800million, the 90,000-seater national stadium is one of the best sporting venues in Europe, and, despite the arch having long replaced the twin towers, remains steeped in nostalgia. Selling up, though, would also provide the governing body with an unexpected windfall. Khan says the governing body keeps its "key assets" - namely England games - and can have money for "massive investment" in grassroots.

Where would England play?

Khan says he sees no reason for anything to change, but if it is no longer committed to repaying the cost of Wembley by holding games there, the FA could take England on the road if it so wished. A pre-World Cup game against Costa Rica is already slated for Elland Road, while, during Wembley's rebuild, games went all around the country.

What about other showpiece games and events at the national stadium?

With the FA looking to get some return on its hefty investment, Wembley has played host to plenty of football matches, at all levels, since it reopened. Throw in the numerous concerts, high-profile boxing matches - how much for a ring-side seat at AJ versus Wilder? - not to mention corporate events, both on and off the pitch, and you can see why Khan feels £500million would be a price well worth paying. He says he "absolutely sees" everything staying as it is, but says he also has plans to "utilise" Wembley more.

And when will this happen?

Khan says he has August, the "early fall" in mind. He says he can see due diligence being done in eight weeks, tying up with the World Cup schedule.


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