The prospect of an American football team moving permanently to London has moved a step closer after George Osborne held talks with NFL executives and the owners of Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets
The Chancellor says he wants to have an NFL franchise based in the capital within the next five years as part of his plan to make London the “sporting capital of the world”.
Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president, said he hopes to install an NFL team in London by 2021 or 2022 – the time needed to “build a fanbase that would be able to support a franchise”.
The talks at Downing Street were “very positive,” he said, adding that the NFL had been “overwhelmed” by the UK response to the game.
He met Mr Osborne along with the NFL team owners, other officials and former players ahead of the game on 4 October at Wembley between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins – the first of three NFL games to be played in London this year.
Mr Osborne said an NFL team based in London would give the city a “huge boost” and said he was doing everything he could to “make it happen so London scores a touchdown”.
Asked about the timeframe, he 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.”
Asked whether he could see London getting its own NFL team in the near future, Mr Waller said: “I would certainly hope so, yes. ”We have always said our goal here is to build a fanbase that would be able to support a franchise.
“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.”
Mr Osborne and Mr Waller exchanged a Rugby World Cup 2015 ball and an NFL gold Superboal 50 ball as a “sign of their commitment to bringing the sport to London,” the Treasury said.