Fulham owner Shahid Khan withdraws offer to buy Wembley
Jacksonville Jaguars owner wanted to use Wembley to stage more NFL games
Shahid Khan has withdrawn his offer to buy Wembley. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
“At a recent meeting with Mr Khan he expressed to us that, without stronger support from within the game, his offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and has decided to withdraw his proposal,” FA chief executive Martin Glenn said in a statement.
The billionaire made his offer public in April and the FA had planned to invest £600 million from the sale into grassroots football projects and facilities.
The potential sale had been discussed by the FA’s Board and the full FA Council was due to vote on the matter on October 24th.
Khan, who owns American football team the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL (National Football League) and English Premier League club Fulham, said his offer had not received the full backing he had hoped for.
“At this moment, following last week’s FA Council hearing, it appears there is no definitive mandate to sell Wembley and my current proposal, subsequently, would earn the backing of only a slim majority of the FA Council, well short of the conclusive margin that the FA Chairman has required,” Khan said in a statement.
“The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them,” he added.
There had been opposition to the sale from within the game with some critics questioning the wisdom of losing ownership of the national stadium and others sceptical of the future investments in the game.
“Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA Chairman to sell Wembley Stadium,” Khan said.
“Until a time when it is evident there is an unmistakable directive from the FA to explore and close a sale, I am respectfully withdrawing my offer to purchase Wembley Stadium.”
However Khan left the door open for the future.
“I cannot rule out revisiting the opportunity at another time when perhaps the Football Association family is unified in its views on the opportunity,” he said.
“I recognise the passion many people have for Wembley and what it means to English football, and will be willing to re-engage with the FA on this matter under proper circumstances.”