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London Calling: NFL, Jaguars Agree to extend current deal through 2020

The Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing in London well past the current agreement it has with the NFL into the 2020 season.

An announcement was made on Thursday by NFL officials that will see teams play at Wembley Stadium, which means the Jaguars will continue to be the host team for the duration of the new deal. Jacksonville’s owner, Shad Khan, agreed to play a home game in London starting in 2013 and the original agreement will end next season. The Jaguars play host to the Buffalo Bills this Sunday morning.

In a story on NFL.com, the league issued a press release outlining its plan to continue promoting American football like it has since the inception of the International Series, which began in 2007.

The NFL — which also has the option to extend the agreement for an additional five years beyond 2020 — has staged International Series regular-season games at Wembley since 2007 and is playing three games there in 2015 for the second consecutive season. The Jaguars’ home game against the Buffalo Bills on October 25 will be the 13th game played in London and will see the one-millionth NFL fan through the turnstiles.

“This new agreement extends a very successful, long-term relationship,” said Mark Waller, NFL Executive Vice President of International. “It is very exciting to be making this announcement in the same week that we will reach one million fans for the International Series in London.”

The deal also makes a lot of sense for the Jaguars, who are one of the smaller NFL markets and playing a game overseas in London helps boost revenue. There is also talk that should the agreement be extended past the 2020 football season, Khan and his franchise would entertain the idea of continuing to be the host team, which has garnered the Jaguars plenty of international fans and support.

There was speculation prior to Thursday that the NFL would seek a team to play a “home and away” game in London – having the team play at Wembley stadium in consecutive weeks. There have been no word if that will ever become part of the agreement in the future.

“Our four-year London initiative has been every bit as rewarding as we anticipated, certainly due in large part to the league’s commitment to the UK and the world class experience that Wembley Stadium has provided the Jaguars, our fans and our partners,” said Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. “Our interest in extending our agreement to play a home game each season in London is nothing new. So, we’re very happy to make it official today. This is great news for the Jaguars and the stability of the team in Jacksonville, which has come to embrace London as our home away from home.”

As a fan here in Jacksonville, I like the idea of the Jaguars becoming the international ambassador of the NFL. What I am concerned about is the continued notion that this is a team that is moving overseas for good. There is no indication of this, but with the push to make the NFL football an international game, there will always be speculation. Jacksonville isn’t winning football games, which adds to the media’s constant pull to push this team out of North Florida – whether it is a move to London or Los Angeles.

It appears San Diego, Oakland or St. Louis are locks to move to the west coast once a new stadium is built in the Los Angeles area.

NFL clubs recently approved a resolution to continue playing international regular-season games through the 2025 season and expanded the league’s ability to play those games in countries and territories beyond the UK.

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