London NFL team ‘in 4-5 years’

London could have its own NFL team in four or five years, says Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Osborne met with NFL officials at Downing Street on Friday morning about the potential for creating a London franchise.

The meeting came as the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets arrived in London ahead of their match at Wembley on Sunday.

"We'd love to have a team here, based in the UK, playing in the NFL," Osborne said. "And I think we are taking steps towards that. Each year, more games are played here. And there is the potential to increase that number next year.

"But yes, the real prize – the touchdown for London – would be to get a team based here.

"Hopefully it's something we could achieve in the next few years, maybe four or five years. These things can't change overnight because teams are based in home cities in the States.

"But I'm 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.

"It would mean a huge amount for our economy because it would confirm London as the sporting capital of the world. And that's what I want to see."

Mark Waller, the NFL's executive vice-president international, was asked if it was a question of when, rather than if, London would get its own franchise.

"I would certainly hope so, yes," Osborne added. "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."

The NFL already has an annual presence in the UK with regular season games now being played at Wembley.

After the Jets and the Dolphins meet on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills will play the Jacksonville Jaguars on October 25, before the Detroit Lions take on the Kansas City Chiefs on November 1.

The Jets and the Dolphins arrived at Heathrow on Friday morning, fully prepared for the London adventure. The Jets have confirmed they have brought over 300 toilet rolls with them – because they say British toilet paper is too thin.

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