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Dolphins to meet Giants at Wembley
America's National Football League looks to make it big in Britain.
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2007 15:03 GMT

The Miami Dolphins are the second most popular NFL team in Britain, after New England [GALLO/GETTY]

America's National Football League (NFL) goes to Britain on Sunday when the Miami Dolphins play the New York Giants at Wembley stadium in the first ever regular season game outside the USA.
The NFL has already conquered America with almost every game a sell-out, waiting lists of up to 25 years for season tickets and polls consistently showing its huge appeal, so Britain is the next target for the burgeoning sport.
"In the longer-term we have a vision to be a top five sport (in Britain)," said Alistair Kirkwood, NFL UK managing director, with the sport seeking to mix it with the likes of soccer, rugby, cricket and Formula One.
 
The NFL first gained popularity in Britain in the 1980s when broadcaster Channel 4 began showing games, and the Super Bowl was screened live for the first time in January 1983, featuring the Dolphins and the Washington Redskins.
 
A series of pre-season matches were also played at Wembley in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
 
The Dolphins remain one of the most popular teams in Britain, trailing only the New England Patriots, according to the 125,000 registered users of the NFL's British website http://www.nfluk.com.
 

"For a short period the Super Bowl out-rated Match of the Day..."

Alistair Kirkwood,
NFL UK managing director

"For a short period the Super Bowl out-rated (soccer highlights show) Match of the Day but then other sports started doing better, re-inventing themselves," Kirkwood said.
 
English soccer's hugely successful Premier League was launched in 1992 while more recently Twenty20 has helped cricket reach a wider audience.
 
However in the last three or four years the NFL has gained greater coverage and there will be 130 live games on television in Britain this year, more than the Premier League, according to Kirkwood.
 
The BBC, Britain's national broadcaster, will show highlights of the Wembley game and live coverage of the Super Bowl.
 
Developing local talent
 
Kirkwood added that one of the key aspects for the sport to be successful in Britain was to develop local talent, with the NFL soon to sign-off on a five-year plan to develop British players.
 
"We will then have a clear pathway for British players to play in NFL games," he said.
 
Lawrence Tynes, a kicker from Greenock in Scotland, and Osi Umenyiora, a defensive end from London, are two British-born players who will be in the Giants team at Wembley on Sunday.
 
The Wembley game sold out rapidly with 87 per cent of the fans coming from Britain and the balance evenly split between mainland Europe and the United States.
 
The Giants will be hosted in London by English Premier League soccer club Chelsea while the Dolphins will use the facilities of the London Wasps, one of the country's leading rugby union teams.
 
The struggling Dolphins, who have lost all seven of their games this season, will be without running back Ronnie Brown and safety Renaldo Hill who are both out for the season after suffering torn cruciate ligaments during a 49-28 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Source:
Agencies
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