4 Sort-Of Crazy Thoughts On The Possibility Of A London-Based NFL Franchise…
September 26 / Jake O'Donnell / SportsGrid
After eight consecutive seasons of testing the water, it would appear that the NFL is ready to begin the long journey of conceiving a professional football team in London. In fact, according to the NFL's Executive International VP, Mark Waller, a British NFL team is absolutely in the works and could materialize as soon as 2022.
[NFL.com] "When we started (with the series in 2007), I reckoned it'd take 15 years to do it," said Waller, the NFL's international chief. "That was what I expected, and we're still on course. We're at the midpoint now."
That being said, here are a few thoughts we have on the concept:
1) There seems to be enough interest over there to pack a stadium for eight home games. By far, the biggest obstacle for a British expansion team would be filling Wembley on a consistent basis -- something the NFL has managed to do every year since 2007. Over 83,000 people attended last year's 49ers-Jaguars game, and 190,000 tickets have already been purchased for this year's lineup.
[The Guardian] More than 225,000 tickets have been sold for the games, with close to 35,000 of those season tickets. That, for many, is proof of just how successful the NFL’s annual visit to London has become, with this year’s sales coming on the back of the 83,559 crowd that watched the San Francisco 49ers thrash the Jaguars 42-10 in the second of the two international series matches played last October.
2) An extra NFL team in London opens the door for a Los Angeles expansion franchise. Adding a 33rd NFL team means the league would have to balance out a conference. The logical choice would be in Los Angeles. :)
3) An international professional league stretching the Atlantic could be the first step toward an American soccer team joining the EPL. To many in the soccer community, this idea seems ridiculous, but the possibility is real as long as the money is there. An international EPL could be a reality if the NFL's experiment proves to be fruitful.
[NFL.com] "We have goals that mirror one another," Waller said of the Premier League and the NFL. "They're big in the UK and want to be bigger in the U.S., and we're big in the U.S. and want to be bigger in the UK."
4) Spreading the game to England can only improve the quality of play, as there will be a greater selection of potential players to choose from. With rugby already hugely popular in the country of 70 million people, the possibility remains that if more of England's contact sport crowd convert to American football, the NFL will steal some choice talent reminiscent of Johnny Wilkinson or Paul Grayson. A team in London is a huge step in growing the sport's talent pool.