By Oliver Lines
The head coach of an American football team in Leeds has welcomed the announcement of the four games to be played in the UK next year.
The NFL had already confirmed that the Miami Dolphins will give up a home game to face the New Orleans Saints, and announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars will return for the fifth straight year to play the Baltimore Ravens.
Paul Goodward, head coach of Leeds Bobcats, said that the London fixtures should continue to increase interest in the sport on this side of the Atlantic.
“We’ve seen an increase of people coming to Bobcats practice sessions, which has increased our numbers by about three quarters with about 10% of those interested in playing,” he said.
“We’re getting a good fanbase now too, and youngsters are coming with their parents to watch our games.
“The fact that the BBC are showing the games and that they’re on a Sunday afternoon all helps the sport grow.”
It was also confirmed that the winless Cleveland Browns will play the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams will host the Arizona Cardinals, making it three teams that will touch down in London for the first time – something which Paul is excited about.
“I think it’s good that they’re changing the teams around now, and there’s a few teams coming that haven’t been before,” said Paul.
“My little boy is a Cardinals fan so he will be pleased, meaning it looks like I’ll be going down.
“It’s always a great day out and it’s fantastic that there’s four games.”
With all four games being in the nation’s capital again, the North misses out on hosting and Paul says this is a disappointment.
“I think somewhere like Old Trafford would be good because it’s more central.
“I only live 35 miles from it so it’s great for me, but if you look at it from other people’s points of view, Old Trafford would be fantastic.
“When people travel from Scotland or Ireland, it can get very expensive if they have to stay in a hotel, so having games in a more central location means that most people aren’t travelling so far.”