Vikings back London team

  • Last Updated: March 27 2013, 17:00 GMT

Star players from the Minnesota Vikings are in favour of a London-based NFL franchise.

Harrison Smith: Behind a London franchise
Harrison Smith: Behind a London franchise

Calls for a team to be established on these shores have amplified in recent months after the league opted to stage a second International Series game at Wembley in 2013.

The decision to further test the market and add a second game - there had previously been one a year since the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants began the trend in 2007 - proved inspired.

The two matches - the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Vikings on September 29 before the San Francisco 49ers tackle the Jacksonville Jaguars on October 27 - sold out within weeks.

Seeing the palpable enthusiasm of UK fans with his own eyes has convinced free safety Harrison Smith of the benefits of fully globalising the sport.

Smith, who is touring the country alongside team-mates and SkySports presenters for a series of fan-forum events, said: "Ultimately, in the US, we have hit all of the markets and it is just time to expand.

"I think there will be a team here."

Star tight end Kyle Rudolph concurred, adding: "That is where the game is moving.

"It is becoming a global game. The globalisation of the NFL is making sense, it is getting to the point (of having a franchise).

"We are playing more and more games over here. It's an incredible opportunity because you see so many other sports that are global.

"We feel like we have the best game in the world and to be able to share that all across the world would be great."

While there would undoubtedly be many obstacles to overcome, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has suggested several times that a UK franchise is a possibility.

Prior to this year's Super Bowl, he admitted selling out two games so soon "is viewed in league offices as a powerful indication of the market's strength".

The reality is such a move remains ambitious and likely several years away if it were to happen, although Rudolph, Smith and centre John Sullivan would relish the opportunity of being based here.

Smith, who was drafted by the Vikings last year, admitted: "We were talking about being drafted over here throughout the trip and we all think it would be awesome.

"If we had been drafted to a London team, we would have been excited to go."

The trio have been encouraged further by the knowledge of supporters they have encountered at the 'roadshow' evenings.

"The fans have been incredible," added Sullivan. "They are very knowledgeable and have asked some fantastic questions."


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