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NFL opens up International Series to markets outside UK

NFL clubs have today (Wednesday) approved a nine-year extension to a resolution enabling regular season games from the American football league to be played outside the United States, opening up the potential for International Series fixtures to be staged in new markets.

The decision at a league meeting in New York expands upon the 2011 resolution which permitted the NFL to schedule international regular-season games in the UK through to the end of the 2016 season. It means that games can now be played through to the end of the 2025 campaign.

“This marks an important step in our long-term international growth,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Fans in the UK have responded incredibly well to the regular-season games we have played in London since 2007. They have demanded more NFL games, and we have worked to accommodate them. We think it’s time to expand our International Series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the UK, but elsewhere around the world.”

The 2016 schedule of international regular-season games will be announced later year, with other countries in contention to host games next season in addition to the UK. Although the league has not specified target markets, the likes of Germany, Mexico and Brazil have all been strongly linked to staging games over recent months.

In July, the NFL agreed a 10-year deal with English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur to play a minimum of two games per season at its new stadium. London-based Tottenham is set to move to its new 61,000-seat stadium in 2018. The facility will feature a retractable grass field with an artificial surface underneath that would be used for NFL games.

Wembley Stadium, the site of 12 NFL International Series games to date, including Sunday’s contest between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins before a crowd of 83,986, will host two more games this season – the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars clash on October 25 and the Detroit Lions-Kansas City Chiefs encounter on November 1.  The NFL said Wembley is expected to continue to host games in future seasons.

NFL owners approved a resolution in 2006 to present up to two international regular-season games per season from 2007 to 2011. The 2011 resolution was UK-focused and permitted the NFL the flexibility to decide the number of UK games from year to year.  Today’s vote ensures a continuation of international regular-season games through the 2025 season and expands the league’s ability to play those games in countries and territories beyond the UK.