Why the Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Made an Offer to Buy England’s National Soccer Stadium
Shahid Khan, owner of NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars, has made a bid for London’s iconic Wembley Stadium, home of the English national soccer team.
The bid, if successful, would bolster the NFL’s expansion into the U.K., giving the league a consistent location to host games and potentially setting the stage for a London-based team in the future.
“We are very happy for Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars,” the NFL said in a statement, according to ESPN. “The potential purchase of Wembley Stadium is a further powerful sign of their commitment to the U.K. and their vision to help us grow the sport.”
The Football Association (FA), governing body of soccer in England and current owner of Wembley, confirmed Khan’s bid in a statement. The Jaguars owner, who also owns London soccer club Fulham, is said to have offered 600 million pounds ($840 million) for the arena, the Associated Press reports, which he says would continue to host games for England’s national team.
“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,” Khan said in a statement on Fulham’s website. “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,” Khan added.
The Jaguars have played a game in Wembley the past five NFL seasons and have a deal in place to do so until 2020. “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 continued.
Should the deal go through, the FA would gain roughly 500 million pounds to reinvest in its youth soccer system, according to the AP, with the hopes of winning the country’s first World Cup title since 1966.