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London 'could have own NFL team'

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Highlights of the Saints' win over San Diego

By Martin Gough

London could one day host a full-time NFL team if the experiment with games in the UK remains successful, according to league chief Roger Goodell.

Speaking during Sunday's Wembley game, Goodell said: "It would be a great thing for the league.

"If the response keeps continuing this way, that's a realistic possibility."

A league spokesman told BBC Sport there was "no timeframe even for exploring the possibility" but the NFL is looking at extending the season by two games.

Similar to the plan for a "39th game" in English football's Premier League, the plan would allow teams to play meaningful games overseas without losing a home fixture.

The fans keep wanting more football and we want to keep bringing it to them

Roger Goodell
Sunday's match between New Orleans and San Diego - watched by 83,226 fans - was the first in a three-year commitment by the league to bring an annual game to the UK.

And Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said they may go one better by playing an extra game in 2009 or 2010.

Wembley looks favourite to continue to host one game but Cardiff and Murrayfield are also candidates.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Martin Gough

Goodell told American TV commentators: "They're great sports fans here in London and they love the game of football.

"Next year we're already committed to being back here for at least one regular-season game and we'll be back the following year also.

"We are considering the idea of whether we play two games either next year or the following year."

NFL owners have already discussed the possibility of cutting pre-season games from five to three per team, and expanding the regular season.

"The British fans are really taking to this game and it's a little bit of a Super Bowl atmosphere. The fans keep wanting more football and we want to keep bringing it to them," Goodell explained.

"The difficulty with these international regular-season games is that you have to take a game away from the home fans.

If you ask any of the players in the locker room no doubt they would come back and do it again

LaDainian Tomlinson
San Diego running back
"It's one of the attractions of expanding our regular season from 16 games to 18 and taking two pre-season games away - it will give us more high-quality content to take overseas."

New York Giants last year overcame some logistical difficulties, including a late arrival in London, to win the first ever regular-season game at Wembley and went on to win the Super Bowl.

And although there was again some criticism of the quality of the turf, the San Diego and New Orleans players were united in approval of the venue.

"I think what stands out to me is the atmosphere of the game," said Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

"It was great to be a part of it and if you ask any of the players in the locker room no doubt they would come back and do it again."

Quarterback Philip Rivers added: "The whole experience was a lot of fun, except the outcome of the game."

see also
Saints pip San Diego at Wembley
26 Oct 08 |  American Football
NFL photos
26 Oct 08 |  American Football
NFL considers Murrayfield fixture
26 Oct 08 |  American Football
Redskins star craves London game
03 Oct 08 |  American Football
UK mission for NFL
29 Oct 07 |  American Football
Giants beat Miami at wet Wembley
28 Oct 07 |  American Football
Top clubs consider overseas games
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League


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