Shad Khan Drops Bid to Buy Wembley Stadium Amid Opposition
LONDON (AP) — Wembley Stadium is staying in the hands of English soccer.
American sports magnate Shad Khan abandoned a 600 million pound ($790 million) offer for the English Football Association's main asset on Wednesday after recognizing the extent of opposition to the sale.
Khan, who owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and Premier League soccer club Fulham, had seen buying Wembley as way of raising the prospects of an American football franchise moving to London.
While the FA called the offer "unsolicited," the governing body's leadership was happy on the prospect of receiving a windfall to spend on improving community soccer facilities while still being able to use Wembley for key England national team matches and domestic cup finals.
But the FA disclosed last week that there was more opposition than support after surveying 22,500 people, including club and league officials, referees, adult and youth players, coaches, volunteers and members of the public.
"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," Khan said. "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."
The FA Council was due to vote on the sale next week.
"His offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and (he) has decided to withdraw his proposal," FA chief executive Martin Glenn said.
While the FA maintained that "Wembley Stadium will not be sold," Khan still envisions buying the north London venue one day when the governing body "is unified in its views on the opportunity."
A further obstacle to a sale emerged last week when the FA announced it was looking into unspecified allegations of wrongdoing made by a former employee of Khan at Fulham.
Wembley is still touted as a potential home of a London NFL franchise one day, having staged regular-season games since 2007 when the stadium re-opened after being rebuilt at a cost of 800 million pounds.
The Jaguars are also still committed to trips to the British capital, with a deal to play games in London through 2020. The new stadium being built for Premier League club Tottenham has a 10-year contract to stage NFL games.