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NFL expands London push to four games in 2017

Reuters

(Reuters) - The National Football League (NFL) will stage four games in London next season as part of is growing commitment to what it calls an increasing fan base in the British capital.

Teams and venues for the games, which is up from the three games played in London each season since 2014, will be announced on Tuesday.

"We continue to be incredibly excited by the passion and love for the NFL shown by our millions of UK fans," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"London is an amazing city.We have had tremendous support from our fans, from Mayor (Sadiq) Khan and other government leaders and business partners, and we are looking forward to taking the next step in the UK by playing four games in London next season."

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The NFL has played three games in London to sellout crowds in each season since 2014 and the popularity of the sport there has even prompted Goodell to say that a London-based team was a genuine prospect.

With the increase to four games in 2017 - which represents half of a home schedule of regular-season games - the NFL will have held 21 games in Britain since the first regular season game in London in 2007.

During that time the NFL said it has achieved huge growth in the United Kingdom, where Sunday viewership of NFL games has more than doubled and the Super Bowl audience has increased more than 75 percent.

"London staging a fourth NFL game is fantastic news – not only for the millions of sports fans who get to enjoy our iconic stadiums – but also because it confirms our status as the go-to choice for hosting the world’s biggest sporting events,” Mayor Khan said.

"London is the international home of the NFL and staging the equivalent of what would be half an American football team’s home games in the city is a huge step towards my ambition of bringing a franchise to the capital."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)