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British government wants full-time NFL team


LONDON - OCTOBER 28: The Miami Dolphins team make their entrance prior to the NFL Bridgestone International Series match between New York Giants and Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadim on October 28, 2007 in London, England. This is the first ever regular season NFL match to be played outside of the United States. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Original Filename: GYI0050901114.jpg

Richard Heathcote

I don’t pay much attention to American politics, and I definitely pay zero attention to British politics. So I can’t really figure out the significance of the British government creating an “All-Party Parliamentary Group” for American football in conjunction with the league’s annual visit to Wembley Stadium.

But I found these comments from Richard Fuller, the Member of Parliament from Bedford, to be somewhat significant: “There is strong support for American football within Westminster and a group of us felt that we should get more involved in developing the sport here at both the amateur and professional levels. . . . We will be working closely with [the British American Football Association], the NFL and other organisations to promote and increase official recognition of American football within the UK sporting landscape. We hope to be able to develop participation in the sport at grassroots level, create opportunities for British players to reach their full potential in the sport and support the pathway to having eventually a UK-based NFL team.”

Of course, plenty of things have to happen before the NFL would put a team in London. One of the key factors, however, will be the willingness of folks in London to welcome an NFL team.

The NFL also needs to be willing to do it. 49ers owner John York, chairman of the league’s International Committee, has an opinion. “It’s ambitious and we can’t talk about timescales yet but I think it will happen,” York said.

For now, the Buccaneers are the team that seems to be on track to visit England on an annual basis, making them the team most likely to relocate to London at some point down the road. It otherwise would make no sense to build a fan base for one team in London -- and then move another team.

The Buccaneers “host” the Bears on Sunday. Albert Breer of NFL Network currently is in London, and he’ll join PFT Live at noon ET to talk about the league’s long-term prospects in England.