“Wembley Stadium is a very special place,” Khan said. “Our commitment to the F.A. is we will own and operate Wembley with the care and respect it deserves, always being mindful that it is — and will continue to be — the home of England’s national teams as well as the ultimate destination for the world’s top entertainment and sports event, including Jaguars and N.F.L. games.”
The F.A. said earlier this year that it expected to pay off outstanding costs related to the stadium’s construction in 2024. Khan said that by selling the stadium, the soccer body would be able to invest in its core aims of developing talent for England’s national teams and enhancing the sport at grass-roots levels.
After details of Khan’s bid emerged Thursday, the F.A. chairman, Greg Clarke, wrote to the organization’s 92-member advisory group. In the letter, seen by The New York Times, Clarke noted that the F.A. did not own the stadium before 1999, and that there would be an “immediate and significant” cash influx that could be invested into facilities at all levels of the sport. He pointed out the sale would allow Wembley to “remain the home of the F.A. and English football,” while creating the option of taking the national men’s team on the road, something it has been unable to do because of the need to pay off construction costs.
“If we are to progress such a deal there would of course be many challenges, and I am well aware that it will be an emotive issue that will divide opinion,” he said. “It is, however, a unique opportunity.”
Further details will be discussed at the next F.A. council meeting in May.
Many challenges lie ahead, notably persuading the public and members of the F.A.’s notoriously old-fashioned council that a sale of Wembley is in the best interests of the game. One member of the council, contacted by The New York Times, said he was instinctively opposed to selling.
“Why would you sell it?” he said. “Everywhere you go in the world they talk about Wembley.” He insisted on anonymity because he did not want to appear to be speaking for the council.
Wembley has become a second home for the Jaguars. In 2015, Khan signed a deal to play at least one game a year there through 2020. Those London roots, and the Jaguars’ occupying one of the N.F.L.’s smallest markets, have long created the suspicion that the team would one day pursue a move to London, becoming the first N.F.L. team to be based outside of North America.
In a lengthy statement, Khan said the offer should be seen as an effort to strengthen the Jaguars’ fortunes in Jacksonville, rather than a harbinger of a permanent move away from Florida.
“For the Jaguars,” he said, acquiring Wembley “would deliver another — and very significant — asset and local revenue source that would further strengthen our investment in London, which as everyone knows is crucial to the Jaguars’ continued sustainability in Jacksonville. In every respect, the Jaguars’ standing in London would be improved and dramatically enhanced if we are fortunate to be approved as the new owner and steward of Wembley Stadium, and that’s good news for the Jaguars and all of Jacksonville.”
Khan said the potential acquisition would not affect his ownership of West London-based Fulham, which is battling for a return to the Premier League. If it advances in the promotion playoffs, it may even face a deciding match at Wembley at the end of the season.