Wembley Stadium is for sale. And as the BBC has reported, there is someone prepared to buy: “Fulham owner Shahid Khan has made an offer, thought to be worth £900m, to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association. It is understood Khan would pay £600m for the stadium and the FA will continue to run the Club Wembley hospitality business, valued at £300m. The FA board discussed the approach at a meeting on Thursday”.
So who is Shahid Khan? Well, as the Beeb has also told, “Pakistan-born Khan has a current net worth of $7.2bn (£5.2bn) and is the 217th richest person in the world, according to the 2018 Forbes rich list”. He already owns Fulham FC, as well as NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars. But, yes, he is one of those Scary Muslims (tm), and so today’s reporting has tried to hint at that, without crossing the Islamophobia line.
The Murdoch Times had merely referred to Khan as an “American tycoon”, while even more downmarket sister title the Sun has offered readers “THEY THINK IT’S Y’ALL OVER … £1bn NFL deal for iconic England HQ”. It has been left to the former Desmond titles to get sniffy, with the Express hinting “IS NOTHING SACRED?’ [Religious angle - geddit?!?] and the Daily Star sneering “A KICK IN THE [balls]”. The Star doesn’t do subtle.
But the greatest opportunity for spectator sport is not - yet - on the Wembley pitch, but the inevitable outrage of the far-right. Selling things is fine, but when it’s a Pakistani Muslim - oh dear, oh dear, the Wall Of Gammon (tm) isn’t going to take kindly to that.
And the wind-up value of the news was not slow to be realised, with Paul Evans kicking off with “By the sounds of it, the new owner of Wembley could be a Muslim. Just imagine the fit that'll give Tommy Robinson, Jayda Fransen & Paul Golding”. Gammon Points offered “Wembley's getting sold to a Muslim. We're not leaving the single market. Royal baby has a French name. A Muslim is the top scorer in football. Worst time to be a gammon since Prince Harry hooked up with a mixed race woman”. There was more.
“Shahid Khan, a Muslim, buying Wembley will wind all the right people up. I welcome these developments … Shahid Khan the Pakistani born Muslim billionaire owner of Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC is purchasing Wembley Stadium from The FA. Go on my son!! Ohhh, Tommy Robinson’s vein is gonna pop when he reads this news. Will take my prayer mat to wembley next time … Just waiting for Tommy Robinson or Britain First to say Muslims at it again this time taking over Wembley stadium … A Pakistani Muslim owning Wembley would leave the EDL-types fuming and that would be FANTASTIC”.
Rahul Verma looks to have meant it when he asserted “The outrage of right wing papers (I won't link, it's the usual suspects) to Shahid Khan buying Wembley can be translated as 'A Pakistani Muslim invader is colonising our national stadium and the home of football’ … I bloody well hope he succeeds”. And one Tweeter captioned a photo of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, with “When you want to go to the England game but remember Wembley stadium is owned by a Pakistani Muslim”.
Shahid Khan must be a sound bloke. He’s already winding up all the right people.