Football Association (FA) chairman Martin Glenn has insisted plans to sell Wembley Stadium should not be interpreted as a “betrayal”.
The FA last month confirmed it has received a bid, reportedly worth as much as £800million, for Wembley from Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars and newly promoted Premier League side Fulham.
The Pakistani-American has promised to fund major refurbishments to the national stadium, safeguard the future of England matches and attract major new events to the arena, including an increase in NFL fixtures.
Some observers have welcomed the proposal, while others are concerned about the long-term implications of the FA surrendering control of a major asset.
Glenn, in an address to the FA Council, has insisted the deal, should it go through, would equip the governing body to properly invest in the grass-roots game.
“This is an opportunity to unleash an unprecedented amount of investment into community football,” he said.
“Receiving an offer to sell Wembley Stadium is not a ‘betrayal’. It is not selling the ‘soul of the game’. Nor is it a desperate action by a desperate organisation.
“We do not need to sell, and we can and will do the things we have planned to do no matter what.
“The opportunity for the whole game is, I believe, transformational.
“This is a moment where we need to choose what the FA is for, what our priorities should be. To be for all of English football, driving improvements in every community in England at every level of the game? Or for the ownership and careful management of an elite venue?
“It’s an opportunity to make the FA a more profitable organisation year-on-year and increase investment [and] to reconnect the England team with its fans up and down the country.”