New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft insisted that he would like to see the United Kingdom have its own NFL team within the next 10 years.
Speaking on a promotional tour of London ahead of his team’s NFL International Series meeting with the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 28, the influential Kraft stressed the importance of growing football overseas.
"I personally think we should have a franchise in London and that is something I am going to push for," Kraft said. "I think I said that the last time we were over here in 2009 and before this next decade is out, I hope we have a team here. I think that would be right for the NFL and this fan base has proven they deserve it."
Kraft continued, "I think we’re starting to tap out in the United States. If you look at the last Super Bowl we were in this past season, we had over 180 million people watching — that’s almost two thirds of America. So for us to grow the game, we have to expand globally. Having seen the kind of support we have received here in London, it is the intention of the NFL owners to get two games here, starting next year."
He added, "The only bad part of putting a franchise in London is that I can assure you it won’t be the Patriots who are moving here."
Kraft’s Patriots last played at Wembley Stadium in 2009. Although that was officially a Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game, it was New England who received the most vocal support from the 85,000-strong crowd as Tom Brady led the Patriots to a comfortable 35-7 victory.
Kraft explained, "We lobbied hard to come back after having such a good experience in 2009. We would love to be the permanent visiting team. It was good for team bonding and everyone really enjoyed our last trip to London."
He added, "I’m really proud that we’re the number one-supported team in the UK and have been for close to a decade. In the last few years that support has been enhanced. We have a thriving Patriots UK Fan Club and they come across the pond every year and attend a game. We love our brothers and sisters over here in the UK."