Wembley Stadium sale to Shahid Khan has backing of FA board

Matt Slater 27/09/2018
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The Football Association’s board has unanimously backed the plan to sell Wembley Stadium to Fulham owner Shahid Khan, the national governing body has announced.

The proposed deal, which is worth £600million in cash and £300m in future revenue from the stadium’s hospitality business, will now go to the FA Council for its blessing on October 11.

In a statement, an FA spokesperson said: “The sale of Wembley Stadium, the negotiated protections and an outlined plan to invest £600m into football community facilities, were presented and discussed at the FA Board meeting today.

“Following on from this discussion, the FA Board has agreed to take the presentation to the FA Council to get its input now that the full facts are known.”

Prior to the crunch meeting, it had been widely reported that the three board members from the National Game, or grassroots football, had strong reservations about the sale and the desired unanimity would be impossible, effectively killing the plan.

But their concerns appear to have melted away, which will greatly encourage FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn, who have championed this idea for over a year, that they can get this over the line.

The terms of the deal have already been approved with Khan, who wants to use the stadium as a base for his National Football League side the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it has been backed by the government, professional leagues and public bodies that invested in Wembley’s rebuilding.

Under Khan’s ownership, the stadium would still be used, on a rental basis, for most of England’s home matches, all of the current club finals and semi-finals it stages and rugby league’s Challenge Cup final.

The only exception to the status quo would be that England would need to play its home games in September and November on the road, as they clash with the NFL’s regular season.

The American billionaire has also committed to maintaining the stadium as a possible venue for major international games, agreed to avoid sponsorship deals with gambling firms and other controversial businesses and given the FA buy-back and and sell-on clauses, should he fail to comply with conditions or sell at a later date for a profit.

The FA has already said it wants to use the windfall to invest up to £1billion in much-needed community facilities – new changing rooms, better drainage for grass pitches and more 3G pitches – and this will be done via the Football Foundation, the charity it set up in 2000 with the Premier League and Sport England to invest in the grassroots.

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Eden Hazard ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as 'the best player in the world', says Ross Barkley

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Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley believes team-mate Eden Hazard is currently ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world.

Hazard scored a superb late winner in the Blues’ 2-1 Carabao Cup third-round victory at Liverpool on Wednesday, firing an emphatic shot past Simon Mignolet at the end of a brilliant run into the box.

The Belgium forward has also netted five times in Chelsea’s opening six Premier League games, of which they have won five and drawn the other.

After Wednesday’s match he was described by Chelsea assistant boss Gianfranco Zola as one of the best players in the world, while the club’s former captain John Terry went a step further, saying in an Instagram post that Hazard is number one on that front.

A post shared by John Terry (@johnterry.26) on

And when Barkley was asked about Hazard, he said: “He is establishing himself in the top three players in the world now, and at the minute, he’s probably the best player in the world.

“He is producing things like that on the pitch – it’s fantastic.”

When then asked about Messi and Ronaldo, Barkley added: “They are probably a lot more selfish than Eden is.

“He is not a selfish player. He is happy with getting two assists and the team winning. But he is adding goals and he keeps improving.

“What he produced against Liverpool, he’s doing that every day in training, so it’s no surprise to us.

“At the minute, he is the best player in the world, I believe.”

Chelsea’s come-from-behind victory saw Emerson Palmieri, following up when Barkley’s header was parried by Simon Mignolet, score in the 79th minute to cancel out Daniel Sturridge’s opener, and Hazard then struck six minutes later.

Both Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea counterpart Maurizio Sarri made eight changes to their starting line-ups ahead of the clubs meeting again in Saturday’s league clash at Stamford Bridge.

One of the adjustments for the Reds, who had gone into Wednesday’s game with their winning start to the season having reached seven matches in all competitions, was Mignolet coming in for Alisson Becker for his first appearance since January.

Mignolet said: “Because it was that long a time and long a period, it was a bit strange to be out there again.

“But I think I tried to do my job the best I could, and I can’t be too disappointed (with) the way I played.

“So that felt good to be on the pitch and to make sure I’m ready if something happens, because not having played so long you never know.

“At the same time, if you go out of the competition – which was a chance for me to play every time – it makes the chances of playing small again and that’s not what you want.”

When asked if he thought it was realistic that he could challenge to be Liverpool’s number one in the future, Mignolet said: “I don’t really think about that in those terms.

“I know, of course, we’ve signed a new goalkeeper (Alisson was recruited over the summer). It doesn’t really change (things) for me.

“The only thing I can do is try to be ready for when the gaffer needs me.”

Prior to the match, Klopp had said Mignolet had been “brilliant” after a move away from the club did not materialise for him in the last transfer window.

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Al Ain wear new special edition home kit celebrating the club's 50th year

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New kit: Al Ain's special edition

Al Ain is celebrating the club’s 50th year with a new special edition home kit. The UAE champions are wearing the new white and purple shirts, with the number ‘50’ emblazoned in gold stitching during the 2018-19 season.

Designed by Nike, the kit has uses Dri-FIT technology, which draws sweat away from the body to the exterior of the shirts and shorts, where it quickly evaporates. The shirt also features laser-cut ventilation holes and mesh panels designed to improve performance by increasing air circulation and helping regulate players’ temperatures.

“The Al Ain logo instills a sense of pride and honour in each and every member of this influential team and to all those who are associated with Al Ain,” said Sultan Rashid, a member of the Board of Directors and Manager of the Al Ain Football Club.

New technology: The shirt draws sweat away from the player's body

New technology: The shirt draws sweat away from the player’s body

In keeping with tradition the new home jersey retains the club’s signature white colour, with white shoulders and sleeves. The kit is complete with players wearing white shorts, with purple numbering, and white socks.

The new kit is priced at  AED 379 (mens) AED 329 (boys).

 

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