JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is shelving plans to buy London’s Wembley Stadium for now, saying he doesn’t believe he has the support needed to push the sale through.
On Wednesday, Khan formally withdrew his $790 million offer for the stadium, putting to rest the latest round of speculation that the billionaire has designs of moving the NFL team overseas.
Though the English Football Association called the offer “unsolicited,” the organization’s leaders were thrilled at the prospect of having a windfall to spend on upgrading soccer facilities.
But the FA disclosed last week that there was significant opposition to the sale after surveying more than 22,000 people, including club and league officials as well as the general public.
The sale would have helped expand the reach of the Jaguars and the NFL abroad, and it also would have benefited the FA financially, Khan said in a statement through a spokesperson.
From the #NFL meetings, client and #jaguars owner Shad Khan shares additional thoughts specifically for everyone in #Jax following the withdrawal of his offer to purchase @wembleystadium in London. They're attached here. pic.twitter.com/MeGs0vfvnf— Jim Woodcock (@WoodySTL) October 17, 2018
“While it appears the proposal earned the support of a majority of decision-makers, at this moment it would not have gained the widespread approval sought by the Chairman of the FA,” he said. “I have informed the FA that I am very willing to revisit the opportunity if and when there is an undeniable mandate that a sale is in the best interests of the FA and game in England.”
Khan acknowledged having the deal fall through was disappointing, but he said he will continue to “emphasize London and the role the UK plays in ensuring a promising long-term future for the Jaguars in downtown Jacksonville.” He added that keeping London as the team’s “home away from home” remains a priority going forward.
The FA Council was scheduled 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.
Khan’s plans to buy Wembley hit another snag last week when the FA announced it was looking into unspecified allegations of wrongdoing made by a former employee of Khan at Fulham.
Those allegations reportedly included a claim that Khan supposedly wants to move the Jaguars to London, despite having said publicly over and over that he has no plans to do so.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who has been publicly supportive of both the Jaguars and Khan’s efforts to expand the team’s footprint, offered another show of support on Wednesday.
“The Wembley transaction was one business strategy the Jaguars organization pursued to add revenue and growth,” Curry said in part. “Shad is an incredibly smart leader. I am confident they will find other sources of revenue and the city will continue to be supportive in their efforts.”
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.