[QODLink]
American Sport
London could get its own NFL franchise
As Jacksonville Jaguars agree to play annual regular-season games from 2013, London franchise is becoming a possibility.
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2012 16:50
Wembley Stadium has become the UK's home for the annually visiting NFL season [GETTY]

London is one step closer to getting its own NFL franchise, with the sport's UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood saying on Thursday that the sport's global expansion plans are slowly ticking all the right boxes.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are the latest team to make London a permanent home away from home after signing a four-year deal which will see them play one game a season in the English capital starting from next year.

Kirkwood and his NFL UK staff have helped turn the sport's International Series, which began in 2007, into a roaring
success that sells out Wembley Stadium each year.

A league meeting in Houston last year voted to continue playing games in Britain until at least 2016.

"I think the first chapter has been considered a success with the owners voting on a renewal going forward. Jacksonville returning is also a sign of maturity of the concept," Kirkwood said in an interview.

"What this now does is allow us to test if we can bring in more new fans and boost a single team recognition.

"Once that period has come up we will then have learnt an awful lot about it and know what the viability for us going
forward is and then be in a great position to make a call (on a London franchise)," said Kirkwood.

The popular International Series has boosted the NFL's profile across Europe.

The inaugural game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins injected an estimated $36.35 million into the English capital's economy, according to the London and Partners promotional organisation. 

Potential growth 

Numbers released by NFL UK also augur well for potential growth.

According to NFL UK there are two million British fans and TV ratings for American football games shown on Sundays have increased by 154 percent.

The Super Bowl has attracted a large audience rise with a 74 percent uplift recorded since 2006.

The St Louis Rams continue the Wembley series against last year's Super Bowl runners-up the New England Patriots when the sixth instalment is played on Octover 28.

"Part of our theory here is that London could some day be a host for an NFL franchise," commissioner Roger Goodell told the Jacksonville team's website (www.jaguars.com).

"Every time we've taken another step in exposing our game to a global audience they've wanted more. We went from pre-season games, because they wanted to see competitive games with the best players, to regular-season games and now they want more.

"We are likely to take the next step from one game a year to two games a year and maybe even beyond that."

420

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list