Tuesday, 24 September 2013

NFL could see London expansion team playing at Wembley Stadium 'by the end ... - Telegraph.co.uk

The Wembley business plan is underpinned by debentures and failure to sell them out would leave the FA scrambling around for other income.

So it was no surprise to see Maslin give a ringing endorsement to the notion of the stadium becoming the permanent home of an NFL franchise or hosting the Super Bowl.

Maslin was confident the ground could stage an entire regular season of eight NFL games.

He said: "Football is our priority. But, yes, I'm absolutely confident that if [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell wanted to have franchise here then we could absolutely do it."

Maslin also expressed his desire to bring the Super Bowl to Wembley, adding: "If they were bringing it anywhere in the world, we want it here."

That could happen one day, according to the man in charge of American Football in Britain.

NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood also revealed he was in negotiations over staging three regular-season matches in London in 2014, with this year two being held in the capital during a single campaign for the first time.

On Sunday Wembley hosts the first of them when the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Minnesota Vikings, before the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the San Francisco 49ers there on Oct 27.

The spectacular success of the NFL's decision to allow matches to be played in London has led to calls for the city to host its own permanent franchise and Kirkwood told Telegraph Sport: "It's possible that it could be done before the end of the decade."

However, he warned that 24 of the 32 current NFL owners would have to agree any such move, adding: "I think the league should have aspirations to be global and having a London franchise would be a great step towards it, but it would have to be under certain conditions."

One of those conditions would be "tripling" the UK fan base for American football, according to Kirkwood, who said a London franchise was not inevitable.

Having signed a four-year deal to play one home game in London until 2016, the Jaguars look the most likely candidate to move – particularly after owner Shahid Khan bought Premier League club Fulham.

Kirkwood warned the prospect of Wembley hosting the Super Bowl was much further away but cited the fact New York was hosting the event for the first time next year as evidence it was not an impossible dream.

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