Sadiq Khan eyes more ‘world-class’ sports venues and permanent NFL franchise for London

London mayor Sadiq Khan has plans to make London the “sporting capital of the world”, highlighting an ambition to build more “world-class” sports venues and introduce a permanent American football franchise in the capital.

Since taking office in May, Khan has rubberstamped a number of new stadium proposals, including Chelsea FC’s redevelopment of Stamford Bridge and AFC Wimbledon’s move back to Merton.

The former will be one of the largest stadiums in London with a capacity of 60,000, and the former MP for Tooting said it would be “another jewel in London’s sporting crown”.

“I want as many world-class sporting stadiums in London as I possibly can,” Khan told the London Evening Standard.

Talking about the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, which is due to be completed in 2018, he added: “When Spurs is redeveloped, not only will it simply improve the sport on offer but that area is going to be regenerated.

“That’s what I’m looking forward to Spurs and Haringey Council working together to bear fruit.”

The Populous-designed 61,000-capacity venue will host at least two matches from the National Football League (NFL) per season.

Regular season games have been played at Wembley Stadium and Twickenham for a number of years, the most recent of which was attended by Khan, who was joined by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

He has since made no secret of his desire to see a permanent franchise based in London.

“We love having the NFL here but it’s not just Londoners or Brits but Europeans; they find it easier to come to London to watch a game than to travel to the East Coast of the States,” said Khan.

“Each game so far has been sold out but my dream, vision and aspiration is to have a permanent franchise here.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Khan also suggested that he’d like to bring the Tour de France back to London.

The capital was expected to be awarded the race’s Grand Depart, but Khan’s predecessor Boris Johnson pulled a bid at the last minute.

The former Labour MP has already met with Tour officials, who have assured him that “they’re not holding a grudge from what happened last time; they realise that was the previous guy.”

First published, written by By Matthew Campelli, 17 March 2017.