An American billionaire has launched an audacious bid worth more than £500 million to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association, the Evening Standard has learned.
Car parts tycoon Shahid Khan – owner of Fulham FC and the Jacksonville JaguarsNFL team – is understood to have struck an outline agreement with FA boss Martin Glenn to transfer the “home of English football” to foreign ownership for the first time.
The extraordinary proposal, which will send shockwaves through the sport, was being put before the full board of the domestic game’s governing body today.
If the takeover gets the go ahead more American football games are likely to be played at Wembley and it could even pave the way for an NFL franchise to be permanently based in London.
The conditions on the original national stadium permission are complex – I helped write them.
Two apply in particular. Firstly a restriction on it being the primary home of any club. Se only a cap on events (originally 20 a year it may have been raised to 25 I hear).
So the temporary season long use by Spurs required variations.
Both of these are backed up by development plan policy allocation the land as primary purpose as national stadium for football or rugby league.
Changes to conditions and planning obligations are needed to make it permanent home to a premier league club. Indeed I sat through meetings with consortia on behalf of top tier football clubs knocking them back. Because we knew if it became exclusive to a top tier club it would price out a national stadium and only a national stadium wouldnt get major national funding for transport etc.
That is not to say the conditions etc. cant be changed. However support for one team is a private interest. Support for a national stadium is a public one, and the development plan is all about public interest. It would be hard to reconcile the exceptionally severe controls on local movements for an area now planned for 5,000 homes on 40+ as opposed to 20-25 days per year. A very high price would be exacted. The stadium is certainly worth less than 500 million with these restrictions.