Now in its 14th year since the first International Series game at Wembley Stadium in 2007, London has long been considered as a potential residence for the first non-US franchise – either through the relocation of an established franchise or Expansion team as a new one.
Today’s victorious home team the Jaguars – whose owner Shahid Khan has invested interest in London as owner of Fulham Football Club – have committed to playing one overseas game a year as the designated “home” team and The latter has been tipped as the most likely. Make a move across the Atlantic.
Ultimately the decision will rest with those in power, but with tickets to the London games over the past two weekends no one can doubt the size of the UK’s NFL appetite.
But what do UK football lovers think of a potential London franchise? Granthshala Sport spoke to fans to find out.
Logistics, logistics, logistics – there was an ongoing theme in the responses.
“For new fans – maybe. For current fans – not at all,” said Cleveland Browns fan Tom Middleton when asked about the possibility of a London franchise.
“Logically I can’t see it as viable given the constant travel and packing millions of dollars worth of equipment on a week’s notice. One game a year is worth a job for four to six teams a year in London or Mexico. Do, for exposure only.
“Surely a London team would need to travel from the US and UK every other week? Their fan base could be low on either end – US fans are unlikely to start supporting a new team, Leave aside the UK team, and many UK fans already have allegiance or no interest in the sport.
“In my opinion, NFL team formation is going to be tougher than any other sport. You already have a 53-strong roster of “first team players,” but you need a practice squad, qualified and experienced coaches. Add to , facilities – that’s a huge question.”
This week, the NFL reiterated its stance on boosting its global appeal, announcing that it was in discussions with three German cities – Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich – about hosting regular season games.
“I really wish it was a good idea, but it has logistical issues,” said NBA and NFL founder Andrew Gamble outside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the British Playbook podcast.
“I think the support is promising, but I worry about whether the novelty will run out, especially as the London team won’t be competitive for the first few seasons – even with compensatory draft picks too,” he said.
England sports fans are notorious for their loyalty to their teams – an unconditional loyalty no better illustrated through Gamble and Middleton, two “long-suffering” Arsenal fans.
A look around this weekend’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the Technicolor array of jerseys would suggest that many UK fans have already swore their NFL loyalty; Will a new “local” team tempt them to switch sides?
“Not at all,” said Middleton.
“I’m completely invested in Brown and his players – I can’t imagine the idea of a new team wanting me to switch allegiance from the last 4-5 years I’ve been involved in the sport.
“I think my commitment to the NFL team is a little less strong than my loyalty to Arsenal, which I have supported all my life.
“However, I will say that the idea of a London NFL team reminds me of Red Bull Leipzig in the Bundesliga – their formation generated an incredible amount of backlash and disgust but now you watch their game with full presence and they clearly Has formed a fan base from his success.
“Whether the London team can replicate this in the NFL will be interesting.”
Gamble was more welcoming, but at the same time said that he would never turn away from his first love.
“I will fully support the London team, get season tickets, work – but if they play the Patriots, I know who I am supporting,” he said.
Credit : www.cnn.com