By 90Min
April 26, 2018

The FA is thought to be in advanced talks over a deal to sell Wembley Stadium to Fulham owner Shahid Khan that would remove an enormous cost burden, see huge sums of money invested in grassroots football and push the England team to play more games throughout the rest of the country having played home games almost exclusively at Wembley for the last 11 years.

The news of a proposal from Pakistani-American businessman Khan, who also owns NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars, broke through major media outlets on Thursday lunchtime.

The immediate reaction has been one of praise for the FA for a shrewd deal.

Jamie McDonald/GettyImages

BBC, Evening Standard, and The Independent, among others, all report of an offer that see Khan pay £500m up front to buy the stadium. Most outlets have reported the proposal to be worth £800m in total, with the FA set to keep Club Wembley hospitality income and matchday revenue. The Sun, however, claims the total value could hit £1bn.

Around £500m from the prospective sale would be set aside for investing into grassroots projects, while the FA would no longer be responsible for staffing costs or maintaining the stadium. It would also wipe the remaining debt from building it

Should he be successful, Khan would have control over any future naming rights deal, with EE currently sponsoring Wembley until 2020.

The 67-year-old, who started his $7.5bn fortune by manufacturing and selling car parts after leaving Pakistan to attend college in the US in the late 1960s, could move his Jacksonville Jaguars to London as the first foreign franchise in NFL history.

The Jaguars have been playing NFL International Series games at Wembley every year since 2013 and will face Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles at the venue this October.

The NFL's response is positive, citing greater flexibility for scheduling NFL games in London.

If the Jaguars do move to London permanently, Wembley would be closed for other uses during the NFL season, which runs from August through to December, including pre-season, with further potential for playoff games in January.

It means that for international games in September, October and November, the England team would have to utilise venues in other parts of the country, just as they did when the new Wembley was being built between 2000 and 2006.

But rather than yielding complaints that England are being 'kicked out' of their home, that is likely to be a popular potential change as many supporters would have greater access to games.

It remains to be seen how this all might affect Tottenham's new stadium, which has been built with the intention of staging NFL games. Chelsea may face difficulty as it has been suggested they could have relocated to Wembley for several years while Stamford Bridge is redeveloped.

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