Management / George Osborne backs drive for NFL franchise in London
George Osborne backs drive for NFL franchise in London
2 October 2015
George Osborne wants to have an NFL franchise based permanently in London within the next five years to confirm the city's status as the "sporting capital of the world".
The Chancellor of the Exchequer met with NFL executives, team owners and former players at Downing Street ahead of the Miami Dolphins meeting the New York Jets at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Mr Osborne said he would “love to have a team here based in the UK playing in the NFL” and he believes “we are making steps towards that” goal.
“The real prize, the touchdown for London, would be to get a team based here,” he said.
When asked about the potential time frame for a team coming to London, Mr Osborne said: “Hopefully it is something we could achieve in the next few years, maybe four or five years time.
“These things can’t change overnight because obviously teams are already based in some home cities in the States.
“But I am in talks with the NFL, sorting out the arrangements.
“They get such a huge welcome, teams like the Dolphins and the Jets when they come here, there is a big fan base here and it would mean a huge amount for our economy because it would confirm London as the sporting capital of the world and that is what I want to see.”
The Press Association asked Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president international, if it was a question of when, rather than if, London would get its own franchise.
“I would certainly hope so, yes,” he said.
“We have always said our goal here is to build a fanbase that would be able to support a franchise.”
Mr Waller continued: “We have always said that we felt that we started in 2007 with the games and we felt it was a 15 year process so that would give us years ’21, ’22 and that feels sort of right – five or six years.”
The NFL already has an annual presence in the UK with numerous regular season games now being played at Wembley Stadium every year.
The first of the games scheduled for 2015 in the UK will take place on Sunday when the New York Jets square off against Miami Dolphins.
The Buffalo Bills will then play the Jacksonville Jaguars on October 25 before Detroit Lions take on the Kansas City Chiefs on November 1.
The Chancellor met NFL Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Curtis Martin during the visit, exchanging a Rugby World Cup 2015 ball for a gold NFL Super Bowl 50 ball.
Mr Osborne also received a Jets and a Dolphins jersey.
Marino said he believes the “biggest challenge” relating to bringing a team to the UK on a permanent basis will be the logistics of the games themselves.
The former Dolphins quarterback said: “There are other sports that do it – basketball, baseball, they go on the road for three and four weeks at a time.
“I think that’s probably the way they would handle having a team here.
“As a player, to play in London would be pretty interesting.”
Marino and Martin threw an American football around outside Downing Street and gave Mr Osborne a brief tutorial.
The Chancellor threw just one pass and Marino later joked to the Press Association that Mr Osborne’s throwing action “needs work”.
Photo © Chris Hawley (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped.