Sadiq Khan wooed the US billionaire trying to buy Wembley by flying to Chicago shortly after taking office and has held regular meetings with him including one just last month, MailOnline can reveal today.
The Mayor of London has long been encouraging Shahid Khan to invest in London and repeatedly urged him to bring a permanent NFL franchise to the capital.
Their first meeting was in September 2016 where the Labour politician met him in his Chicago penthouse apartment and he has said the billionaire a ‘great friend’ to London.
Just last month they met in London when his Wembley plan, said to be 18 months in the making, was fully formed but it is not known if Shahid informed Sadiq.
Sadiq Khan has held regular meetings with ‘friend to London’ Shahid Khan including last month (pictured)
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 tweeted: ‘Always a pleasure to catch up with @FulhamFC @Jaguars owner Shad Khan – a great friend to London, and supporter of bringing world-class @NFL action to our city. #LondonIsOpen #SXSW
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.
Mr Khan first posed with billionaire Mr Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham Football Club, in September 2016 and the pair are said to have become firm friends.
He tweeted a picture of himself holding a Jaguars jersey in his and said: ‘Great to meet Shahid Khan today to talk about my drive to bring an franchise to London’.
The politician was on a five-day trip to Montreal, Chicago and New York to drum up business.
They met again when the Jaguars took on Baltimore Ravens at Wembley in September last year.
Last month London’s Mayor again said he wanted to bring NFL to London permanently and suggested Wembley could take on more games, especially when Spurs move back to White Hart Lane from August.
London has hosted 21 regular season games since 2007 and he wants it to be the sporting capital of the world.
Sadiq Khan meeting Shahid Khan in 2016 in his Chicago flat when he flew to the US to drum up business
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
He said: ‘I’ve been saying since the first day I became Mayor my ambition is to have more American football games in London and ultimately for there to be a franchise there and, dare I say it, even the Super Bowl.
‘I met recently one of the owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan.
‘I’ve met the NFL commissioner on a number of occasions, most recently at the game at Twickenham this year and my team is working very closely with the NFL.
‘This year we’ll have three games in our city for a variety of reasons to do with the availability of Twickenham and other issues.
‘Obviously once Spurs open up their stadium that will give us the potential to have more games there, but I’m ambitious – the idea is to have eight games in London eventually, which is the number a franchise team plays and then who knows, maybe one day the Super Bowl.’
Football fans are furious after plans to sell Wembley Stadium to the American owner of an NFL team for more than £500million surfaced today.
Khan has a passion for sports; he is pictured celebrating a Fulham goal away at Crystal Palace
The iconic site – where England games have been played since 1920s – could be handed to Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of American football ‘franchise’ the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Football Association says the huge windfall could be pumped into grassroots football, but fans are uneasy at the thought of the national stadium being privately owned and potentially renamed.
Critics questioned how much the new owner might charge England to play at the ground, while others told of their fears the stadium could end up being be named after US firms like Budweiser or Taco Bell.
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.
It is feared the English national football team may end up having to play home matches at other stadiums around the country while the NFL season is underway.