Sunday 25 September 2016

Tottenham sign deal with NFL to stage matches at new 61,000-seater stadium

Mark Bryans

Published 08/07/2015 | 12:21

Home from home: Spurs will host NFL matches Photo: AFP
Home from home: Spurs will host NFL matches Photo: AFP

Tottenham have announced a deal with the National Football League that will see them host fixtures in their new stadium.

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The Premier League club are due to move into a new home in 2018 and will now host regular-season NFL games on an artificial surface which will be installed under the regular grass pitch used by Spurs.

Tottenham, who will relocate for a season whilst the work is completed, have completed a 10-year deal with the NFL that will see them host a minimum of two games a year - with chairman Daniel Levy pleased with what the agreement will mean to the surrounding area.

"We have an opportunity now to deliver one of the most unique sports, leisure and entertainment venues in the world, bringing together the EPL (Premier League) and NFL for the first time," he said.

"The socio-economic benefits this will bring to the area will be immense and demonstrates our commitment to the regeneration of this priority borough in London."

Wembley has already hosted 11 NFL fixtures, with three more scheduled for later in 2015, with the sport proving popular in Britain with 10 crowds of over 80,000 already recorded.

Tottenham, who could yet spend the year away from their ground at Wembley, will be hoping to tap into that popularity when they begin hosting matches from 2018 onwards.

Both Spurs and a potential London-based NFL franchise were unsuccessful in bids to take tenancy of the Olympic Stadium - soon to become the new home of West Ham - but Mayor of London Boris Johnson believes more fixtures in the capital could lead to a franchise following soon.

"Anyone who has seen American Football at Wembley Stadium cannot fail to have been thrilled by the spectacle," he said.

"The wise heads that run the NFL have clearly not missed the fact that Londoners are going absolutely gangbusters for gridiron.

"We are already working very closely with the NFL, including on plans to get more Londoners involved in the sport, and we believe that building on the success of NFL at Wembley by staging more games in an area of the city that has been earmarked for a massive programme of economic regeneration and investment makes perfect sense.

"Touchdowns in Tottenham can only add to our reputation as a global sporting powerhouse, and help us take another step towards our goal of having a permanent NFL franchise here in London."

The deal is not exclusive and NFL games can take place at other venues in the UK - with Wembley issuing a statement shortly after the Tottenham link-up was announced, detailing their hopes of a continuing relationship with the sport.

"Wembley has enjoyed a unique and successful relationship with the NFL since the International Series commenced in 2007," it read.

"American Football has been embraced by fans in the UK and Europe and has grown year-on-year.

"Amongst the numerous successes has been the growth of the Jacksonville Jaguars whose community engagement and annual appearances have given a sense of the NFL's long-term commitment to the sport in the UK.

"Wembley Stadium has a proven record of hosting some of the world's biggest events, from record breaking concerts, UEFA Champions League Finals, to the upcoming Rugby World Cup fixtures and the UEFA 2020 European Championship Semi-Finals and Final and we look forward to the NFL remaining part of this iconic venue's annual schedule."

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