Shahid Khan in Wembley Stadium Sale Talks; Possible Jaguars Move Reported

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 03:  Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan at the Fanatics Super Bowl Party on February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Fanatics)
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is reportedly in talks to buy Wembley Stadium, with an eye toward potentially moving the Jags to London full-time one day.

According to James Olley of the Evening Standard, Khan may make an offer in excess of £500 million (likely over $700 million) for Wembley. Khan confirmed the talks in a statement on Fulham's website after the report was published:

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. 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. 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.

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. 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 is a Pakistan-born businessman who also owns Fulham FC, which is third in the EFL Championship, but there has reportedly been no indication that Fulham will play at Wembley if the sale goes through.

Khan re-affirmed Fulham's future at Craven Cottage, located in south-west London, in a statement released on the club website after the report:

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No matter what the outcome of our offer may be, I want to emphatically state to you that none of this will have any effect on my commitment to your Club.

To be clear, this venture is 100 per cent independent of my investment in and operation of Fulham Football Club, Motspur Park and Craven Cottage. No less attention will be paid to developing players and fielding a squad that will win with frequency and always make you proud. It will have no impact on Craven Cottage as the home of FFC. And this is imperative to know, and I encourage you to spread the word – absolutely nothing changes in our plans to redevelop the Riverside Stand. 

While the English national team would reportedly continue to play the bulk of its matches at Wembley, it would also play matches elsewhere in England should Khan purchase the stadium.

The Jaguars have played one home game in London every year since 2013, and they will take on the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 28 at Wembley.

"We are very happy for Shad Khan and the Jacksonville Jaguars," NFL executive vice-president of events and international Mark Waller said in a statement to Tom McGowan of CNN. "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 brand-new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will also play host to an NFL game for the first time this season when the Seattle Seahawks face the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 14.

Per Olley, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had been the favorite landing spot for a potential NFL relocation since it was built specifically with American football in mind, but Khan's potential purchase would flip the script.

In 2014, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Sky Sports that putting a full-time NFL team in London could be "five or 10 years away."