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Dublin: 22 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

NFL chief Goodell drops London franchise hint

Are we edging closer to an NFL team in Europe full time?

Image: Matt Slocum/AP/Press Association Images

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER Goodell has dropped a strong hint that progress is being made to set up a franchise in London to compete in the league.

Hailing the success of the league’s International Series at Wembley, Goodell has long championed the chances of setting up a British team – who would likely use the Olympic Stadium as their home.

When asked about the progress of forming a franchise in the British capital, Goodell said talks were “further down the road”.

The NFL first visited Wembley in 2007 when the Miami Dolphins switched a home game to London, with the league revisiting every year since.

Last season saw two regular-season fixtures played at Wembley, while next season will see three contested there – with each game already fully sold out.

Goodell hailed the growing popularity of NFL in Britain, and has no doubt that the game will continue to grow – which could swing the chances of a franchise being established in Britain.

“I believe that the response to the third game in the UK, and the way that the fans have embraced that and sold it out in such a short period of time, is just another sign that the more we give the fans there, the more they want,” Goodell said.

“That’s a great tribute to their passion. Our next step is something we’re going to have to evaluate.

“When I go over to London I am continually amazed at the breadth of knowledge of our game and the experience that is provided at Wembley.

“We will be continuing to invest in that marketplace and find ways to engage those fans even more deeply. I’m optimistic that they will respond positively.”

The Jacksonville Jaguars have committed to play a home game at Wembley for each of the next four seasons and are thought to be favourites to move to London if the switch is approved.

Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan has recently invested in London, having purchased Premier League club Fulham in July 2013.

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