Wembley Stadium update
As you may know, as well as being involved in our Trust, I am also a
member of the FA Council, one of the two supporter representatives. The
Council met yesterday to discuss the potential sale of Wembley to Shahid
Khan. This was the first of two meetings of the Council dedicated to
this issue alone – the second will be on 24 October, at which a vote
will be taken. If the Council vote to support the sale in principle,
then a formal decision on whether to proceed to negotiate a sale of
Wembley will be taken by the Board of the FA at a subsequent meeting.
Even if the FA decide to proceed, I anticipate it will take some time
before any sale is concluded.
Thank you to all of those of you who took the time to complete the short Supporters Direct and Football Supporters Federation survey we circulated late last week. The two supporters’ representatives were able to share the interim results of the survey with the FA Council as part of our discussion today. One of the striking interim results of that survey we could share was that the potential of an anchor tenancy of a football club at Wembley in the future was in the top two concerns expressed by supporters (the other related to protection of games traditionally played at Wembley – cup finals, play-off finals etc).
The reason I wanted to provide an update to members of our Trust, though, is that there are some aspects of this that may have a particular relevance to Fulham fans.
When I joined the Council in July, and there was a discussion on the
sale of Wembley, I asked for there to be consideration given to a
safeguard in any proposed sale that would prevent any future owner
moving a club side to play at Wembley on a permanent basis. I argued
that this was a wider concern than just Fulham, although that might be
the most immediate possibility.
Over the course of the last couple of months, I have been seeking to persuade others in the FA and associated with this discussion of the merits of such a safeguard. Necessarily, as with some other aspects of the work the Trust does, this has had to remain low key.
At the meeting of the Council today, it was confirmed that any sale of Wembley includes a condition that explicitly prevents any new owner deciding to give any club, other than an NFL franchise, a principal tenancy at Wembley. This would prevent any football club being relocated to Wembley by any future owner of the stadium. The power to allow any change to that remains with the FA and Sport England, even if they no longer own the stadium.
I should also emphasise that during recent weeks, when the Trust has met with Fulham and also with representatives of Mr Khan, there has been strong commitment given to the new Riverside stand, and work on that project starting at the end of the current season. As you will have seen from the notes of our meeting with the Club earlier in the week, this was the subject of most of that meeting. As a Trust, we have no reason to doubt those statements, and no evidence to suggest any alternative agenda.
Our Trust was initially established as the Back to the Cottage campaign, and it is part of our aims and objectives to work to ensure Fulham remain at our historic home. Given the twists and turns in this saga for almost the past 35 years, the Trust is just the latest of a long line of fans who have fought, campaigned and lobbied for Craven Cottage to remain Fulham’s home. We welcome the most recent reiteration of the long term commitment to the Cottage made by Mr Khan, and we continue to work constructively with the Club to achieve that shared ambition – but we will also always remain vigilant.
With your continued support for the Trust, together we can be an important voice towards ensuring our Club retains the historic link between Club and ground that is so much of the identity of Fulham.
If friends, family and fellow Fulham fans are not already Trust members, please do encourage them to join – so we can ensure our voice remains strong. You can join at our website here: http://fulhamsupporterstrust.com/join-us/
With best wishes,