Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 27 No. 35
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Khan Family Talks Jaguars/Fulham Ownership, NFL’s Future

Shahid (c) sees Mexico City as an NFL possibility, as football there is an “upper-middle-class sport"
Photo: Tony Florez

Fathers and sons often work together in family-owned businesses, but that dynamic can become slightly more public when those businesses are an NFL team and one of the oldest clubs in English soccer. As part of an afternoon panel on Day 1 of the '18 CAA World Congress of Sports, Jaguars and Fulham FC Owner Shahid Khan sat down for an interview alongside his son Tony, who serves as Jaguars VP/Football Technology & Analytics and Fulham Dir of Football Operations. Shahid: “This is serious money. Serious business. And you can’t screw it up just because you want your son involved.” Tony, who also owns and operates data firm TruMedia Networks, noted analytics has become a big part of Fulham, particularly as it looks to return to the EPL. Tony: “We really turned things around by going to a more analytics-heavy approach. Basically, we weigh analytics 50% in every decision we make.” 

APPLES & ORANGES: Shahid, on major differences between English soccer and the NFL, said, “The NFL is very fan-friendly, and in our case, we’re the youngest team in football. 20 years old. We want people coming in and having a good family experience. English soccer, or soccer period, is hard core. No breaks. No alcohol in English stadiums during games. So if you’re looking for revenue from that side, it’s not there. It’s ticket sales and sponsorships. Very much an eat-what-you-kill mindset vs. a shared revenue model which the NFL has.” 

WHERE TO PLANT A FLAG: The Jags have been at the forefront of playing games in London, with Shahid noting that is due to certain limitations being in the Jacksonville market (i.e. high number of transplants in the market, three NFL teams already in Florida). Shahid, when asked where it could make sense for an NFL team abroad, said, “The place you want to start is London. We can sell out our game in around three days, 85,000 tickets, at a significant premium. And the makeup of the crowd is around 30% from greater London, 30% from outside greater London and 40% from outside the U.K. So what it does is it really exposes football to a diverse audience.” Shahid noted they are teaching fans about tailgating, and that consuming alcohol during games is something new for English fans. Shahid: “That’s a new experience for a lot of people, which they love!” Shahid noted 1:30pm local time in London for a game is ideal because it's primetime in China and “very rarely do they have live sports in China because of the time difference.” Other than London, Shahid sees Mexico City as an NFL possibility, as football in that country is a very “upper-middle-class sport,” meaning “great demographics.” 

PLAYING IN THE BIG TIME: Shahid also talked about the power of the NFL, saying, “To this day, I’m intimidated by what the NFL is. You can’t be anonymous anymore.”