NFL extends Wembley deal to play two games a year until 2020

By Matt SlaterBBC Sport
Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have won only one of their opening six matches in the regular season
NFL International Series on the BBC
25 October: Jacksonville Jaguars v Buffalo Bills - live on BBC Two from 13:00 GMT
1 November: Detroit Lions v Kansas City Chiefs - live on the Red Button and BBC Sport website, with highlights on BBC Two

The NFL has extended its deal to stage at least two regular-season games a year at Wembley until 2020.

The agreement, which was announced on Thursday, includes an option to extend it by a further five years until 2025.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will host one of those two games, as they have done for each of the past two seasons.

"This is great news for the team in Jacksonville, which has come to embrace London as our home away from home," said Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.

The Florida-based side started playing one of their eight regular-season 'home' games a year at Wembley in 2013, when they committed to an initial four-year deal.

The Jaguars face the Buffalo Bills in the third of those games on Sunday.

"Our four-year London initiative has been every bit as rewarding as we anticipated," added Khan.

The Jaguars-Bills contest will be the second of three International Series games this year, and the 13th since the NFL decided began playing matches at the home of English football in 2007.

All but one of the 12 games that have been played at Wembley were sold out.

"This new agreement extends a very successful, long-term relationship," said Mark Waller, NFL executive vice-president of international.

Earlier in October, the 32 team owners in the NFL voted to continue playing matches overseas until 2025, with the desire to stage games in other global cities.

But London remains the priority for the NFL's attempts to export its product beyond America, as the world's richest league has already signed a 10-year deal to play two games a year at Tottenham Hotspurs' new stadium from 2018.

With at least four games a year scheduled for London, the next step could involve setting up a London-based franchise or hosting a Super Bowl in the British capital, or both.

And with the Jaguars being the team most associated with London, not least because Khan also owns football club Fulham, speculation about long-term commitment to Florida will continue.

Khan, however, has always been quick to dismiss suggestions that he wants to relocate the Jaguars to London, saying he is only interested in growing his team's global appeal.

The Jaguars also have a long-term agreement with the city of Jacksonville to remain at their EverBank Field home.

British Chancellor George Osborne made his support for the concept of a London-based team very clear a fortnight ago when he invited a delegation from the NFL to Downing Street.

It is understood that his support would include tax breaks to help the team stay within the league's strict salary cap and a promise to lobby the European Union for exemptions from European employment law that run counter to US sports law.