To sell or not to sell? Wembley is the question…

It’s a debate that’s been ongoing since April, ever since the news broke that Wembley Stadium may be sold by the FA in order to obtain funds to strengthen and develop the grassroots game. The figures being mooted range between £600m to £900m.

The likely purchaser is Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan who owns Premier League new boys Fulham as well as NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s thought that Khan wants to use the stadium as the base of Europe’s first NFL franchise. The Jaguars have played 6 games at Wembley since 2013 as part of the NFL International Series and rumours of a relocation to London have only been intensified by their owner’s interest in buying the stadium. But some England fans think that selling our showpiece stadium to foreign owners is the wrong way to go.

shahid khan fulham

The FA’s thought process is based on the poor standard of grassroots facilities throughout the country. A recent FA commissioned survey found that only one in three pitches are of an “adequate” standard. It’s a scene all too familiar for those involved in the game at this level- turning up on a morning to play on a waterlogged pitch, which then has to be inspected for things like broken glass and special gifts from our canine friends. There’s no doubt that any investment in grassroots football would be welcomed by all but is it worth selling up it’s spiritual home?

It seems that in modern football the rich get richer and those at the very bottom of the pyramid get left behind. Sport England, who partially funded the building of the stadium are backing the sale, on the proviso that the money is injected back into Football. They state that it provides the opportunity to “invest new funds strategically, for the benefit of football, and the wider community, at the grassroots level”.

Earlier this year The Independent produced a 7 part report on the state of grassroots football. It’s a fascinating read, check it out here – The Nation’s Game

grassroots academy

The stadium will of course remain the home of the England National Team, as well as hosting flagship events like FA Cup Finals and Play-Off Finals. With NFL matches on top, some are also concerned about the state that this will leave the pitch in.

Former England international and coach Gary Neville certainly didn’t hold back when discussing the issue. He described the plans as “a nonsense”. “The FA feels to fund the grassroots programme, they have to sell a national asset – it’s quite simply ridiculous”. Neville clearly feels that the deal is not good value.

With very strong opinions on both sides we took to Twitter and Instagram to run a poll on which way you think the FA should go, and the results were very close. The question was simple, should the FA sell Wembley Stadium?

On Instagram we received over 1000 votes, and the “yes” camp shaded it with 51%. Twitter went the other way with 61% of people saying it was a bad idea. Thus further showing that opinions are still very much split on the matter.

With very valid arguments on both sides of the debate, it’s one that will rage on until the deal is finalised (if it is).

Where do you stand on the matter? Should The FA keep control of Wembley? Or would you rather see the funds invested into grassroots football? Join the debate via our social media channels.

Want to read more about grassroots football? Click here to read our guide on successfully running a grassroots football team.