Shad Khan Withdraws Bid For Wembley Stadium Over FA Concerns
Jaguars Owner Shad Khan "withdrew his bid to buy Wembley Stadium in London, an unexpected termination" of the $800M deal that Khan "attributed to a lack of overwhelming support" from the English FA, according to a front-page piece by Nate Monroe of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Khan's pursuit of the 90,000-seat venue "received push back in London from the beginning," but had appeared to be "on track -- at least until a recent meeting" of the FA Council. Khan had "big ambitions" for the stadium, hoping to host the '30 World Cup there and "vowing Wembley would be a centerpiece of future major tournaments." Khan said that owning Wembley would "create a new revenue stream that would bolster, among other things, the football franchise in Jacksonville." However, Monroe notes the bid became a "source of speculation" that Khan was considering "having more Jaguars games in London or perhaps moving the team entirely." Khan has "denied that" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/18). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joshua Robinson notes in recent days, it "became clear" that the FA Council was "divided over issues ranging from how to spend the windfall to how the stadium would be managed" under Khan's ownership. Some members of the council were "troubled by the notion that they were selling the crown jewel of the national game" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/18). Khan said that he could "return to negotiations in the future," but accepted that the "time was not right" (LONDON TIMES, 10/18).
BITTERSWEET DECISION: ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco noted Jaguars fans are, "not surprisingly, exceptionally happy about the news" of Khan withdrawing his bid, as it should "end speculation the franchise might relocate overseas." Despite that, the withdrawing of the bid "potentially is a financial blow to the organization -- one that could have an impact on the long-term viability in Jacksonville." The Jaguars have "been transparent about how critical playing in London is for their long-term stability in Jacksonville." Purchasing Wembley would have "allowed the Jaguars to continue playing in London indefinitely," which would have given Khan "significant additional revenue" from any of the 30 non-NFL games or events held at the stadium. Some of those funds would have "funneled back to Jacksonville" (ESPN.com, 10/17).