FILE PHOTO: General view before the game between the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium in London, on October 1, 2017. (Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs)
10:33 AM 04/26/2018
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan confirmed that he is interested in purchasing Wembley Stadium, Englands national soccer stadium in London.
Khan, a Pakistan-born businessman, also owns Fulham FC, a London-based club that currently plays in the second division of English soccer.
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of Wembley Stadium is seen on its opening day in London, March 17, 2007. Photo: Action Images/WNSL/REUTERS/Action Images/Pool
The Evening Standard suggested that Khan may have offered in excess of £500 million ($700 million).
“The games the Jaguars play at Wembley are essential to the financial stability of the Jaguars in Jacksonville, which is one of the smallest markets in the NFL,” Khan said in a statement on Fulhams website. “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.”
Jacksonville has not ranked inside of the top 20 teams in terms of average fans per game over any of the last 11 seasons.
This move could be the beginning of management trying to transition the team overseas. Playing in such a small market has been a major disadvantage for the franchise financially. But, going to London could create a Toronto Raptors sized fanbase, where a whole country supports their one team in the league.
The NFL first played a game overseas in 2007. Jacksonville has played one home game a year in London every year dating back to 2013. Back in 2015, the team extended its deal to continue to play overseas for an additional five years, which will run through the 2020 NFL season. This move could provide Jacksonville with some security in regards to consistently being awarded overseas games because theyre trying to establish a fanbase there.
They are scheduled to take on the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 28, in Philadelphias first regular season game played outside of the United States.