The history of Wembley Stadium - in pictures

Patrick Grafton-Green
Evening Standard
Getty Images
Getty Images

These pictures show the history of Wembley Stadium as it emerged an American billionaire has launched an audacious bid to buy the ground from the Football Association.

Shahid Khan, a car parts tycoon, is understood to have struck an outline agreement with the FA to transfer the “home of English football” to foreign ownership for the first time.

The original Wembley, which was first known as the Empire Stadium, opened in 1923 after it was built in exactly 300 days at the cost of £750,000.

It hosted its first ever FA Cup final just four days after building work was completed, between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United.

The ‘White Horse’ final was not ticketed, and huge numbers of fans crammed through the turnstiles, with some estimates suggesting 300,000 people got inside the 127,000 capacity stadium.

The final got its name from the actions of mounted police, in particular PC George Scorey and his white horse Billy, who managed to push crowds back as they flowed onto the pitch before the game.

From then every FA Cup final was played there until the year 2000, as well as European Cup finals and the 1966 World Cup final that saw England beat West Germany 4-2 courtesy of a Geoff Hurst hat-trick.

The stadium hosted the 1948 Olympics while sports fans have witnessed rodeo, speedway, greyhound racing, baseball and American football there over the years.

Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham, the world's best known evangelist, preached sermons from inside the ground, while Bob Geldof and Midge Ure’s Live Aid benefit concert was held there in 1985.

In 1975, motorcycle stunt rider Evel Knievel crashed while trying to land a jump over 13 single decker city buses.

Wembley has hosted boxing bouts between Cassius Clay, before he changed his name to Mohammed Ali, and Henry Cooper in 1963 and, more than 50 years later in the new stadium, Anthony Joshua and Vladimir Klitschko in 2017.

The old Wembley was demolished and re-built from 2000, with the new 90,000 capacity stadium opening in 2007.

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