‘Think of the fans’: Theresa May warns the FA to consider England supporters before selling off Wembley to an American Football owner
- It emerged today Wembley could be sold in a £500million deal to Shahid Khan
- Downing Street said the decision was a matter for Football Association to decide
- But it warned the views of fans should be considered before a decision is made
Theresa May tonight warned the FA to think of England fans before committing to selling off Wembley Stadium.
It emerged today the headquarters of English football could be sold in a £500million deal to Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham Football Club.
Downing Street insisted the process was at an early stage and ultimately a matter for the FA to resolve.
But Mrs May’s official spokesman urged caution.
Theresa May (pictured in Downing Street today) tonight warned the FA to think of England fans before committing to selling off Wembley Stadium
The Football Association are on the verge of selling Wembley Stadium for more than £500million in a move which has sparked a backlash from some fans, who say the ‘crown jewel’ site should not be handed over to private owners
He said: ‘This is a decision for the Football Association. But Wembley is the historic home of English football and holds a very special place in the hearts of fans up and down the country.
‘I’m sure the FA will want to strongly consider the views of these supporters before deciding what to do next.’
The Football Association, says the huge windfall could be pumped into grassroots football, but many fans are uneasy at the thought of their national stadium being privately owned.
Plans for the sale have also sparked a scramble to reclaim the £40million taxpayers’ money pumped into the development of the stadium and the £120million National Lottery funding.
WHO PAID FOR WEMBLEY STADIUM?
Wembley Stadium opened in 2007 at a cost of £757m after work began to demolish the old ground in 2002.
Funding for the new stadium came from the FA which secured huge loans for the project as well as from Lottery-funded Sport England which paid £120m; the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport which put up £20m with a further £21m coming from the London Development Agency.
In January the FA said it would finally finish paying for Wembley by the end of 2024, 17 years after it opened.
A debt of £142m reportedly remained.
Khan, who is worth an estimated £5.2billion, is prepared to pay more than £500m in cash and allow the FA to keep its hospitality business Club Wembley that is valued at a further £300m.
It is thought the English national football team may have to play home matches at other stadiums around the country while the NFL season is underway.
Mr Khan, who is worth an estimated £5.2billion, is prepared to pay more than £500m in cash and allow the FA to keep its hospitality business Club Wembley that is valued at a further £300m.
The FA is said to have around £100m in debt which it was due to pay off in 2024.
Former QPR player Rodney Marsh was among those questioning in the move today.
He tweeted: ‘Mark this date. If Wembley is sold it will no longer be Wembley Stadium. It will become The Google Sports Arena.’
Local MP and Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner added: ‘Let’s not see our National Football Stadium traded away in a backroom deal.
‘Wembley Stadium is not just at the heart of our borough of Brent, it’s at the heart of Britain.’
Fulham’s billionaire owner Shahid Khan – the owner of the is the man who wants to buy the national stadium. It is thought he will use it as the home of a UK-based American football team
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