NFL to expand London series in 2019

The NFL will play four games in London during the 2019 NFL season, including two contests at a brand new stadium, as the league looks to determine the viability of a permanent team in the United Kingdom.

The league said the four-game slate will include two contests at Wembley Stadium, which has hosted the NFL’s international series since it began in 2007, and two at a new multi-sport stadium that will also house the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur. It’s unclear which NFL teams will play in the games and when they will occur during the 2019 schedule.

“The games in the past few weeks have once again demonstrated the incredible passion of NFL fans in the U.K.,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s top international executive. “The support of our stadium partners, the Mayor of London and the Minister for Sport gives us a great foundation for further development of the sport and the ability to give our fans even more NFL games in the coming years.”

The NFL hosted three games in London during the current season, the most recent of which occurred last Sunday. All three games attracted sell-out crowds, according to the league.

Pro football executives have long considered international growth as the NFL’s key long-term revenue driver. The NFL is projected to earn $14 billion in revenue this year and Commissioner Roger Goodell has set an informal goal of $25 billion in revenue by 2027.

Waller told The Guardian earlier this month that the NFL is “nearer than ever” to placing a permanent franchise in London. The league is still gathering information on how to solve the logistical problems a permanent team would face, such as frequent international flights during an already-busy travel schedule and the difficulty of luring top players to a U.K.-based franchise.

While the NFL has not publicly revealed any plans to establish an expansion team or relocate one of its existing 32 franchises, Waller told ESPN that the year 2022 represented a “logical time frame from a business perspective” as to when a permanent team could be established.