League welcomes British chancellor's support for London team

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 22, 2014 11:39 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - The National Football League welcomed British chancellor George Osborne's support for a London-based team and remain focused on building a fan base that could support any expansion plans, the league said on Wednesday.

According to a story in the Evening Standard newspaper on Wednesday, Osborne held recent talks with NFL officials about the possibility of putting a team in London.

"We warmly welcome the Chancellor's strong support for the possibility of an NFL team in London and look forward to welcoming him to a game at Wembley over the next few weeks," the NFL told Reuters. "Our key priority is to continue to build our fan base in the UK so that there is strong demand for any future plans in London.

"We will do this by ensuring that we are able to offer top class action on the field and brilliant events – which include the fan rally at Trafalgar Square on Saturday – off it.

"We are looking forward to two exciting upcoming games in London and are committed to further strengthening the links between the NFL and our UK fans.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in July that interest in the league is so strong in London that the city could end up having a team of their own before the decade is out.

The NFL has staged a series of games at Wembley since 2007, attracting near-capacity crowds. London's premier stadium next hosts the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The league will stage a total of three games in London this season. The Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders opened the series last month while the red-hot Dallas Cowboys will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Nov. 9.

"One of London's massive strengths is its sporting prowess, its great football (soccer) teams," the Chancellor told the London newspaper in an interview.

"This is primarily a decision for the owners of the clubs and the NFL organization but I've said to the NFL that anything the government can do to make this happen we will do, because I think it would be a huge boost to London."

Osborne said he would take his son to one of the NFL games coming soon to Wembley, and that he felt there was a very real chance for the British capital to get an NFL team.

"There are 32 teams in America, and one of them could be a London team. That's a serious prospect," he said.

"It's not going to happen overnight but over the next few years.

"I just think it will cement London as a global sporting capital as well as a global financial and business and cultural capital."

(Writing by Ossian Shine; Additional reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris and Frank Pingue)