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British govt. wants NFL London team

LONDON -- The British government wants an NFL team based in London.

George Osborne, the British treasury chief, told the Evening Standard newspaper on Wednesday that the government will do whatever it can "to make this happen."

The NFL has been playing regular-season games at Wembley Stadium every year since 2007, and this season there are three games on the schedule. But they haven't yet announced any plans to put a team permanently in the British capital.

"We warmly welcome the chancellor's strong support for the possibility of an NFL team in London and look forward to welcoming him to a game at Wembley over the next few weeks," the NFL said in a statement. "Our key priority is to continue to build our fan base in the U.K. so that there is strong demand for any future plans in London."

Detroit and Atlanta will play Sunday at Wembley, the home of England's national soccer team. Last month, the Miami Dolphins beats the Oakland Raiders 38-14, and next month, the Dallas Cowboys will face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While there has been much talk over the last few years, feasibility of a franchise in London is uncertain. So is how many players would want to join a team so far away from the rest of the league.

"This is primarily a decision for the owners of the clubs and the NFL organization, 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.

"Clearly there are some tremendous sports fans in the U.K., and we've seen the growth of our sport and the popularity amongst those great fans over the last few years," Lions president Tom Lewand said Wednesday. "How much we can continue to grow that is a real opportunity in front of us. ... I wouldn't put anything past the NFL. I wouldn't put anything past the talented people that we have in the league and I certainly can understand the desire given the popularity of a lot of different sports over here."

The Jaguars also played at Wembley last year, losing to the San Francisco 49ers, and are slated to keep coming to London over the next two seasons. They are owned by Shahid Khan, who also owns English soccer club Fulham.

Because of Khan's plan to keep his franchise in the British sports fan's consciousness, the Jaguars have often been rumored as the most likely team to relocate to Britain.

Osborne, however, would not speculate on which team might pick up and move abroad.

"There are 32 teams in America -- and one of them could be a London team. That's a serious prospect," Osborne said. "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."

ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.