By Simon Milham, Lindy’s UK writer
LONDON, UK — When you meet Shad Khan, you are made to feel the star. This gracious man, with natty line in grey, shiny shoes and slick ‘stash, constantly uses the interviewer’s name, as if he is a friend. He peppers every reply with carefully crafted, well-chosen words, each sentence starting with: “Well, Simon, it’s like this … ” or “You’re right, Simon, but … ” or “That’s a great point, Simon, however … ”
In short, he knows how to play the game.
But Khan’s purchase of Fulham Football Club in West London, a stone’s throw from neighbors and Premier League giant Chelsea, will have major ramifications for both the Jacksonville Jaguars and “The Cottagers.”
How can this be a positive for the Jaguars’ franchise? Correction: For the city of Jacksonville in its long-term efforts to keep the team?
People in Jacksonville are putting a positive spin on the news and you get some angry responses if you suggest that this may just be another move in a long-term plan, but that’s exactly what they should fear it is.
Sacrificing a home game for four straight years to play at London’s Wembley Stadium is not only a clear competitive disadvantage, it is being rumored that the Jaguars will possibly play two games per year in the UK beginning in 2014 (per Roger Goodell).
And the owner has now bought a professional soccer team in London!
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out which way this thing might be moving.
What the optimistic people in Jacksonville will say is that the new stadium renovations – I assume you’ve heard about those – mean that Khan has no intention of ever moving.
There are some who are fired up about the renovations, as the Jags are going to have a bigger TV screen than the JerryWorld movie theatre in Dallas. But here’s the rub: The city is footing most of the bill. The few million Khan himself spent on the renovations will likely be made back over the next few years. Or so he hopes.
Bottom line: People in Jacksonville love Khan. You won’t hear a negative word about him from just about any Jaguars fan.
Yet fans at Craven Cottage should take note: The Jacksonville Jaguars enter this season as the only team in the NFL with a first-time general manager, first-time head coach, and an offensive coordinator who has never called plays in the NFL. There is no other team that can make such a claim.
The Jaguars have, inarguably, the greenest front office/coaching staff in the NFL. The team was $31 million below the cap last year and they’re on track to enter this season with even more space.
There are zero Pro Bowlers on the roster and zero potential Pro Bowlers signed in free agency this offseason.
It’s fine that the beer-guzzling rube in the north end zone talks long and loudly about how Khan “throws the money around.” If you mean he’s renovated the locker room and has planned to help renovate the stadium, you’re correct. If you suggest he’s spent money on winning football games, you’re incorrect.
Every single coaching/personnel/management move he’s made since becoming owner has been on the cheap. When you combine this with the London activity … it doesn’t take a guy in a tinfoil hat to start wondering if something bigger is going on.
If Shad Khan, a pragmatic and self-made billionaire, were given an opportunity to own Europe’s only NFL franchise, he’d do it in the blink of an eye. The drooling masses in Jacksonville have not come to grips with this concept and these people are setting themselves up for crushing disappointment in a few years.
Khan comes across as a sincere fellow.
And I hope I’m wrong when I say that one day the man with the curly moustache could be reviled in Jacksonville.