Shahid Khan has sensationally withdrawn his £600million offer to buy Wembley.
After months of negotiation, Fulham owner Khan has pulled out of talks because his offer was ‘seen as more divisive than it was anticipated’.
Khan believed he would not receive the full support of the FA council next week, which would vote on proposals, but does not rule out returning with an offer in the future when the organisation ‘has unified its view.’
Fundamental to Khan’s bid was an agreement within the FA as to how to money would be pumped back into football at grassroots level.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn explained: ‘Earlier this year, The FA received an unsolicited official offer from Shahid Khan to buy Wembley Stadium. It was a very credible offer and was given very serious consideration.
‘Shahid Khan has informed us today that he will be withdrawing his offer to buy the stadium – and we fully respect his decision.
‘Mr Khan believed that his offer to buy Wembley would release funds to help improve community football facilities in England and that it would be well received by all football stakeholders.
‘At a recent meeting with Mr Khan he expressed to us that, without stronger support from within the game, his offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and has decided to withdraw his proposal.’
When Khan first tabled his bid in April, the FA sought to encourage rivals to eclipse his offer but none were forthcoming.
Khan, who is worth £5.2bn and also owns NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars, said in a statement: ‘I’ve been clear publicly as well as in my correspondence with the FA Council that it would require a proper partnership, with the full and enthusiastic commitment of all involved, to maximise the benefits to the FA and game of football by way of 100 per cent private ownership of Wembley Stadium.
‘At this moment, following last week’s FA Council hearing, it appears there is no definitive mandate to sell Wembley and my current proposal, subsequently, would earn the backing of only a slim majority of the FA Council, well short of the conclusive margin that the FA Chairman has required.
‘The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them.
‘Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favoured by the FA Chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.
‘Until a time when it is evident there is an unmistakable directive from the FA to explore and close a sale, I am respectfully withdrawing my offer to purchase Wembley Stadium.
‘I cannot rule out revisiting the opportunity at another time when perhaps the Football Association family is unified in its views on the opportunity.
‘What is certain is seeing a proposal of this magnitude come to fruition would necessitate an extraordinary partnership, one capable of doing remarkable things for all of our respective constituents well into the future.
‘That would require the partners getting off to a strong and promising start, and with opinions clearly split, that is not possible at this time.
‘The journey was not without its rewards, as I have strengthened standing relationships while making new friends along the way. Wembley Stadium is indeed a national treasure, one I would care for and respect for generations.
‘I recognise the passion many people have for Wembley and what it means to English football, and will be willing to re-engage with the FA on this matter under proper circumstances.
‘In the meantime, I thank the FA for its consideration and as it continues to deliberate the potential of private ownership of Wembley Stadium, I trust it will own and operate Wembley in a manner that will provide exceptional service to players, guests and the development of football in England.’
Sportsmail reported last week that
The FA will have a £72m bill for upgrades to pay for if the sale was to fall through.
Khan’s bid was first revealed by Sportsmail in April with FA chiefs considering the offer too good to turn down.
In January, the FA said they would finally finish paying for Wembley by the end of 2024, 17 years after the new 90,000-seater stadium was opened at a cost of £757m.
A debt of £142m reportedly remains. Khan’s bid would have paid it off.
Khan is a Pakistan-born American citizen who made his fortune through Flex-N-Gate car bumper firm in the United States.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was among the notable critics of the proposed sale.
Neville appeared in front of parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports committee to discredit the plan.
‘The FA feels to fund the grassroots programme, they have to sell a national asset – it’s quite simply ridiculous,” the ex-Manchester United defender said.
“This is a nonsense. They are talking about an extra £70m a year for 20 years – that’s a pittance in football, it’s a pittance in government, it’s the price of a full-back.’
The Football Foundation said the news was a blow for the game at grassroots level.
‘The news that Mr Khan has decided to withdraw his offer to buy Wembley Stadium should come as a huge disappointment to community footballers everywhere.
‘An additional £600 million generated from the sale could have been turned into an additional £1.2 billion through working with local authorities, local education authorities and other organisations.
‘This would have been a once in a life time opportunity to make considerable inroads into probably the most pressing issue facing football in this country.”
The news of the sale falling through was met with mixed reaction on Wednesday.