White Hart Lane to start with just one NFL game this season, as Wembley gets two

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Spurs’ new White Hart Lane stadium will host only one NFL game this year, despite the Premier League club having a 10-year deal with the American league to stage two games a season.

The £800million venue, which is under construction, will stage the first of three NFL games in London in October, when the Oakland Raiders host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, October 14, the sixth week of the regular season.

Having staged its first NFL game in 2007, Wembley gets its 19th and 20th games over the following two weekends.

Which game comes first has not yet been decided but the fixtures are the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Charges versus the Tennessee Titans.

The three “road” teams are visiting London for the first time and mean that 29 of the league’s 32 franchises have now played in the British capital.

By far the biggest and richest league in the United States, the NFL has been inching towards setting up a London-based franchise and has tried to learn something new each season.

Last year saw four games being played in London, with two at Wembley and two at Twickenham. This year’s new twist is to play games on three consecutive weekends.

But the other major change is the move to White Hart Lane, which currently has a workforce of 1,000 builders trying to get it ready for the start of the next football season.

Signed in 2015, the deal with the NFL brought a £10million contribution towards the stadium and should provide at least £1million a year in shared ticket revenues from this season.

The long-term ambition, however, must be for Spurs to become the full-time home of a London franchise and chairman Daniel Levy told reporters at the club’s headquarters that he “hoped” this would be the case.

On why they are only staging one game here this year, London mayor Sadiq Khan said it was because Spurs and the NFL are “perfectionists” and want to get everything right first time around.

The stadium has been specifically designed with dual-use in mind, as the grass football pitch can be retracted and kept under lights below the stands while the NFL uses an artificial surface.

That surface is two metres lower than the grass pitch so nobody’s view is obstructed by the coaches and players who stand on the sidelines – an issue that Wembley gets around by closing the first five rows of seats.

Spurs’ new home will also have NFL-sized changing rooms, a bespoke media centre and players’ tunnel.

It is understood that the North London club may be offered a third game in coming seasons to make up for missing a game this year but it can pleased with the Raiders-Seahawks match-up, as they are two of the league’s more popular teams.

Fulham owner Shahid Khan’s Jaguars have been regular visitors to London – and have been tipped as a potential mover, if a London franchise ever gets the green light – but their opponents the Eagles can boast of one of the league’s best teams and brightest quarterback talents in Carson Wentz. The Jaguars, on the other hand, have one of the league’s best defences.

Both sides won their divisions this season and are still involved in the play-offs but the Chargers and Titans narrowly missed out, as a result of slow starts to the season, and will hope for better things next season.

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