CHANCELLOR George Osborne has lent proposals for a London-based American football team further momentum by promising the government would do “anything it can” to attract the NFL.
Osborne revealed he had held talks with NFL chiefs over basing a franchise at Wembley Stadium, which is hosting its latest gridiron match on Sunday, and called the idea “a serious prospect”.
Britain’s higher top rate of income tax than the United States has been mooted as a potential barrier to a deal, but the Treasury would be able to grant an exemption as it did for the 2012 Olympics.
“This is primarily a decision for the owners of the clubs and the NFL organisation but I’ve said to the NFL that anything the government can do to make this happen we will do, because I think it would be a huge boost to London,” Osborne said.
“There are 32 teams in America and one of them could be a London team. That’s a serious prospect. It’s not going to happen overnight but over the next few years. I just think it will cement London as a global sporting capital as well as a global financial and business and cultural capital.”
NFL executives told City A.M. earlier this week that they were “very open and flexible” to ways of increasing their appeal further, including a London franchise.
Wembley has been hosting soldout NFL matches since 2007 and this year is staging three regular-season games, with the second coming this weekend when Atlanta Falcons play Detroit Lions.
The differing tax rates affect not just salaries but also sponsorship contracts – a lucrative component in the earnings of top sportspeople.