The National Football League have recently increased the number of regular season games played on London soil to two but conversations are being had to increase the amount further.

NFL officials met with London Mayor Boris Johnson to discuss the possibility of increasing the number of games played in the capital. But if a decision is made in favour of more, it could have ramifications for West Ham United, Leyton Orient, and representatives from Formula 1.

Wembley Stadium is the current venue used to host the American Football fixtures but, involved in the discussions is whether the Olympic Stadium could be used instead.

A spokesman for the Mayor’s office said: “Sunday’s game at Wembley, in front of over 80,000 fans, further cements London’s reputation as the natural home of American Football outside of the United States.

“Only last week the Mayor, in conjunction with the NFL, announced an expansion from one to two regular season matches in London from 2013. That means in total an additional £44 million in revenue for the Capital from next year.

“Given the ever growing popularity of gridiron on this side of the Atlantic, the Mayor and his team have held a number of meetings with senior executives in the last few days to explore further opportunities involving the NFL and London. The talks were exploratory, we are at an early stage, but the signs are encouraging.”

The London Legacy Development Corporation, in charge of operating the Olympic Stadium post-Games, has not confirmed any other action taken by NFL, but Mr Johnson is chairman of the company.

London Assembly Member for City & East John Biggs has waded into the debate, calling the talks “an act of desperation”.

Mr Biggs said: “I’ve got nothing against American football but I think local residents would prefer a local football or other sports team to be the main tenant.

“If the Mayor forces the NFL on East London I am worried it will alienate residents and confirm that the idea of the stadium as a venue for the local community, has finally fizzled out.”

The £486 million Olympic Stadium has already been earmarked for 20 athletics meetings, which include the World Championships in 2017, and will also be available for community use, with Newham Council contributing a £40 million loan towards the redevelopment project.



Posted on 31/10/2012