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49ers to host Denver Broncos on Halloween at Wembley: NFL

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - San Francisco 49ers will host Denver Broncos in a regular season game at London's Wembley Stadium on October 31, the NFL said on Friday.

It will be the fourth year in a row Wembley has been used as part of the NFL's international series of regular season games.

This year's clash between New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers attracted a sell-out 84,000 crowd.

"For the past three years we have seen the extraordinary passion that exists for NFL football in the UK," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"We want to continue to build on that passion by strengthening our ties to our existing UK fans and creating new ones."

A second match in the UK during 2010 is also a possibility being explored as part of the drive to spread the popularity of the sport overseas, the NFL said.

The 49ers, one of the most popular NFL franchises with five Super Bowls, will be playing an international regular season game for the second time.

They faced Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City in 2005, the first time a regular fixture had been played outside the U.S.

WONDERFUL VENUE

"The 49ers organization is excited to be part of the NFL's 2010 international schedule," 49ers President and CEO Jed York said of the Halloween fixture in the NFL statement.

"London is a wonderful venue for two of the most storied franchises in NFL history to square off."

The Broncos, twice Super Bowl champions, played a pre-season American Bowl game in London in 1987.

"To play a regular-season game overseas is truly special," Broncos president and CEO Pat Bowlen said. "It's a wonderful, historic opportunity for our franchise and will be an unforgettable experience for our players, coaches and fans.

"I'm excited for the game in London and am thrilled that the Broncos will be part of the NFL's continued international growth."

American sports have proved popular in London. A sell-out crowd watched Chicago Bulls beat Utah Jazz in a pre-season match at the O2 Arena in October, part of the NBA's Europe Live Tour which included a game in Madrid.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)