FA opens up Wembley to rival bidders

The English Football Association (FA) is seeking further offers for London’s Wembley Stadium in a move designed to ramp up the bid it has already received from US billionaire Shahid Khan, according to the Evening Standard.

The newspaper reported that the FA has been approached by “at least three” other interested parties. It comes after Khan, owner of NFL American football team the Jacksonville Jaguars and newly-promoted English Premier League football club Fulham, in April submitted a bid reported to be worth £600m (€681m/$803m) for the stadium.

The Standard said that Khan remains the favourite to buy the stadium from the FA, but the deal is not yet done. The report added that investment bank NM Rothschild, which is advising the FA on the sale of the venue, has been asked by the body to “actively make it clear we are open to offers” after the summer.

The FA has already said that a significant proportion of funds generated from the sale of Wembley would be put towards grassroots football, and a higher bid would allow the body to dedicate more money to this area of the game.

The Standard also reported that Khan initially submitted an offer of £200m for Wembley before being persuaded to up his bid. The stadium primarily serves as the home of the English national team, and also hosts the finals of English Football League competitions as well as the latter stages of the FA Cup.

Wembley also hosts annual NFL games, with Khan’s Jaguars currently having a multi-year deal in place to play fixtures in London as part of the league’s annual International Series. Khan said at the time that he had submitted the bid with this in mind.

The Standard, citing sources familiar with the matter, said that the FA would only welcome other bidders once all the “rules of engagement” have been met with Khan. The FA is keen for Wembley to retain hosting rights to major football events and a natural playing service, along with a capacity of at least 80,000.

The FA is also said to be keen on including a clause in any deal that would allow it to block any subsequent resale of Wembley, should that prospective owner be deemed unsuitable.