Phew that’s a relief. Shahid Khan has withdrawn his offer to buy Wembley Stadium. The offer was first made six months ago but at no point should the FA have given this offer even a moments thought.
£600m for Wembley is a derisory offer and should have been dismissed out of hand. It cost £757m to build the thing a little over ten years ago and now we are seriously considering selling it for less than what we paid at a time whilst London property prices soar.
I’m no traditionalist or someone who is in love with Wembley stadium. I just don’t want to see it go on the cheap.
The £600m bid from Shahid Khan, owner of Fulham and the Jacksonville Jaguars, was speculated back in April and fans were in support. Grassroots needs serious help and the Wembley offer made some sense. Buy the amount isn’t anywhere near good enough. Khan isn’t some hero, here to save grassroots, he is an entrepreneur who is only interested in what Wembley can make him. He wants Wembley for his own personal gain and to move his American football side over to London.
Football has never been so lucrative, is English football really at such a stage where we must sell off our assets?
Grassroots needs a more sustainable income, not a get rich quick scheme. Football the world over, particularly the Premier League, is dripping in sweet sweet cash. Impose a tax on agents fees, attach a levy on transfers, demand greater money from Premier League sides currently basking in the last year of a £5bn overseas TV contract.
Since 2000, the FA has invested £615m into grassroots football so its clear the money wouldn’t last very long and then what? Sell the ’66 World Cup? We could see how much we get for Gareth Southgate’s blazer? What else isn’t nailed down? What is clear is that the Premier League needs to contribute more to grassroots level and understand the integral role locals sides play in the success of side at the top of the pyramid. Manchester United paid Monaco a small fortune for Anthony Martial but what about the money they owe Fletcher Moss for Marcus Rashford?
You could also solve a lot of problems by adjusting the football calendar. It’s not hard to see why 150,000 matches were called off last season. Weather plays a huge part in the condition of pitches up and down the country but we do nothing about it. When summer rolls around and its the perfect time to be outside and enjoying the nice weather, that’s exactly when the football season ends. Simply moving football towards the summer and away from winter would be an obvious move.
I’m all for saving grassroots football and big help is needed but we don’t need to sell off prime real estate to do so. Any kind of sale would have been incredibly shortsighted. Having spent so much on the national stadium to sell it now would be crazy. Wembley saved, bullet dodged.