England's Football Association (FA) is in negotiations to sell off Wembley Stadium, home of the country's national soccer team, to U.S. billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team.
A spokesman for the FA confirmed Thursday an offer had been tabled to purchase the stadium, with reports suggesting the deal could be worth somewhere between £800 million and £1 billion pounds ($1.1 and $1.4 billion).
Under the plan, the FA would keep Wembley as the main venue for major games, including England internationals and the FA Cup Final, but the England team could play elsewhere in October and November due to clashes with the U.S. National Football League season.
Khan is no stranger to British sport — he also owns West London soccer side Fulham, which is currently in line for promotion back to the Premier League from England's second tier.
Shortly after the news was announced Thursday, Khan issued a statement saying, "We would strive every day of the year to be the best possible steward for a venue that is iconic." The statement also made it clear that this venture is completely separate to his interests at Fulham.
Wembley itself is also familiar to Florida-based businessman Khan — who is currently valued at over $7.2 billion dollars — as his Jacksonville Jaguars team have played regular season games at the venue on five occasions.
The 90,000 capacity stadium was reopened back in 2007, after the old structure was completely demolished, and is one of the most expensive ever built, reportedly costing £798 million.
Khan's motivation for the bid appears to be an attempt to cement London as a base for his Jacksonville NFL side, as ties with the capital continue to grow throughout the organization. "If my ownership interests were to include Wembley Stadium, it would protect the Jaguars' position in London at a time when other NFL teams are understandably becoming more interested in this great city," he said.
This soccer season has seen Tottenham Hotspur playing its games at Wembley, while construction is completed on its own stadium in northeast London. Tottenham's new White Hart Lane ground will provide further evidence of London's importance to the NFL, as it is also set to include a retractable American football pitch, ahead of the start of a 10-year deal to host at least two NFL games a season.
Reportedly, Khan intends to pay more than £500 million Wembley Stadium itself, and a further £300 million to allow the FA to keep the Club Wembley debenture and hospitality business.
Earlier this year, the English Football Association revealed that it would officially finish repaying the sizeable loan needed to build Wembley by 2024. Since its reopening, the FA has supplemented the cost by hosting other sporting events and music concerts, before Khan's offer came in.