Some are wondering if Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan is planning to move his NFL team to the U.K. after completing his purchase of Wembley Stadium, Britain’s premier soccer stadium.
Kahn has previously said he would not move the team out of Jacksonville, Florida, but despite his claims, British media abounds with rumors that Kahn is considering just that, according to Pro Football Talk.
The British press notes that the U.K.’s soccer season ends in time for the NFL’s season to begin leaving the whole deal a perfect sports schedule. And Britain’s Financial Times insists that the schedule might fit in with “Mr. Khan harbouring ambitious plans to bring his US American football franchise to London.” The Daily Mail offered similar thoughts on Khan’s plans.
According to reports, Khan, who also owns a British soccer team, Fulham, is set to buy Wembley for $800 million, but the deal is not locked in just yet. The Football Association’s 10-member board still has to consider the sale, and some say they are leaning toward a denial.
But it may not seem likely that the NFL would allow the Jaguars to move across the ocean to the U.S. Even as the league has been working to interest foreign populations in American football — and have been playing games in England regularly — having a U.S. team move all the way to Britain may not be feasible. It would mean a full schedule of home games forcing opponents to fly to Britain.
However, since 2013 the Jaguars have committed to one game per year in the U.K. and have extended that commitment through 2020. Indeed, ESPN recently reported that the Jaguars have found their “over there” games to be quite lucrative because the team makes more money at their one London-based game than they do at any particular home game.
U.S. football has done fairly well, too. In 2016 and 2017 the league sold out games at Wembley and two at Twickenham.
So, even as the Pakistan-born car parts manufacturer and 221st richest man in the world claims he will not move the Jaguars, there seems to be a long list of reasons why he might not be able to resist the attempt.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.