(Reuters) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says interest in the league is so strong in London that the city could end up having a team of their own before the decade is out.
”It depends on if we continue to see that growth and how fast it goes,“ Goodell told the NFL Network on Thursday. ”We couldn’t be happier with what we are seeing.
“We actually couldn’t be more surprised by the tremendous demand for NFL football in London and the U.K. in general, and frankly even Europe. It’s not something I think is 15 or 20 years away, it could be five or 10 years away.”
For the upcoming season, the National Football League is staging three regular season games in London, the most contests ever held overseas during an NFL campaign.
“The (London) fans want to see more NFL football,” said Goodell. “Our clubs have responded very favorably. We’re anxious to do more of it.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also expressed his bullishness on giving Londoners a team of their own.
”We played here three times,“ Kraft said. ”It’s amazing, the last two times we sold 85,000 tickets out, just like that. It was a great experience.
”I know enough of us in the ownership category along with executives at the league level feel that would be a great entry point and a way for us to expand the reach of the NFL.
“I’d personally like to see a franchise in London before the decade’s out.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in Winchester, Kentucky; Editing by Gene Cherry