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The Football Association (FA) of England announced Thursday that it has received an offer to buy Wembley Stadium. The National Football League revealed that the offer came from Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. The FA released a statement, saying, “We can confirm that the FA has received an offer to buy Wembley Stadium.”
The NFL said, “We are very happy for Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The potential purchase of Wembley Stadium is a further powerful sign of their commitment to the UK and their vision to help us grow the sport. Having stadium options in London has always been critical to the NFL and, in tandem with our 10-year partnership with Tottenham Hotspur, this new relationship would allow for even greater flexibility in scheduling future NFL games in London.”
The Jaguars and a number of other NFL teams have been playing games in London for the last several seasons. The league has hinted at a possible European expansion in the past, but that still seems quite away off. That said, the last time an NFL owner made a large purchase outside of his home city was when then-St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased several acres of land in Los Angeles. The Rams moved to L.A. just a couple of years later.
You can bet on just about anything these days, and if you look for the right betting site you can find odds on whether an NFL team will move to London within the next decade. With this news, it sounds as though the Jaguars may be the betting favorite at this point.
Khan has reportedly offered £500 million to purchase the rights to the stadium. The full FA board was to hear the offer on Thursday, and the London Evening Standard reported that Khan and FA chief executive Martin Glenn have already agreed to a deal in principle.
In addition to the NFL’s Jaguars, Khan is also the owner of Fulham FC, who play their home games at nearby Craven Cottage in London. Fulham is currently in the second tier of English football, though they have a chance to be promoted to the Premier League after this season.
Khan issued a statement on Fulham’s website that 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 U.S. 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.”
Khan added that Wembley would still serve as the home ground of the England national teams even after the transaction. The move has raised speculation regarding the potential for the Jaguars to be moved to London, but the team’s president, Mark Lamping, said Khan’s intent to purchase Wembley does not mean he wants to move the team to the UK. Khan recently invested $76 million out of his own pocket to help renovate EverBank Field, which is owned by the city of Jacksonville.
Lamping did not, however, rule out the notion that the Jags could play multiple games per year in the UK.
Wembley Stadium opened in 2007 and has a seating capacity of 90,000. It has served as the home stadium to Tottenham Hotspur this season following the closure of their long-time home park, White Hart Lane. Spurs are expected to move into their new stadium, the generically-named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, to kick off the 2018-19 Premier League season.