Would a NFL team in the UK work?
Football was my first passion. By football, I am referring to what many in the U.S. would call soccer. Here in the UK, football is the number one sport, you only have to take a look at some of the salaries on offer to see how valued the sport is in this country.
Recently, other sports from overseas have become more prominent, with increased access to viewing games and overseas fixtures. I started watching NFL about 7 years ago and have been captivated ever since, regardless of the time difference, I always watch the regular season games through to the Super Bowl and I am still learning about the game.
The NFL and NBA are both making conscious efforts to increase their international presence. There have been discussions about the idea of the UK hosting an NFL franchise, to which the opinion is split. Understandably so, how would the practicalities work? Would a new team be created? Where would the franchise play its games and how would this affect the other franchises who would have to travel? I can’t provide all of the answers to these questions but I can share whether it is practical …
The NFL is serious about extending its reach into the European market and all things considered it makes sense. Whilst it is the most lucrative league in the world, there is essentially a world of possibilities that haven’t been fully realised yet. There is demand on the UK side and this allows more money to be made, so why wouldn’t the NFL want to do this? This year, the NFL has scheduled 4 games as part of its International Series, in what may seen as a sign of the organisation testing out some of the obstacles it would face if the plan was to see the light of day.
Also, many times during the current season, there have been discussions as to why TV ratings have dipped. This opens the door to the possibility of international growth, which may eventually lead to an overseas franchise. But do NFL fans in the UK actually want a franchise based in this country?
It’s a interesting question and leads to so many other questions, that will mean this needs to be discussed in another post at a later date. Firstly, without all of the formalities and the various workings that would have to be done, the notion of basing a franchise here is a great idea. You only have to look at the attendances that are close to 84,000 and how fast the tickets sell out.
However, there are so many logistics that I believe it would take a while for it to be implemented smoothly. How will the league schedule work? Will overseas travel affect the competitive nature of the game? These are things that can only be known once they have occurred (if only we could see into the future). There is no doubt that these factors are being looked into and will be discussed in more depth as the plans progress. In my opinion, I do believe these will both be problematic aspects of any franchise being based in London but I’ve seen crazier things happen in life.
In terms of the actual spectacle and the atmosphere around the NFL games, it is truly a wonderful experience. It provides a nice change to your standard Premier League football matches, where the atmosphere can sometimes be dull. The NFL in London allows fans to engage with a sport they only usually see on TV, it is much more of a day out and provides fun for all ages and genders. If it was solely based off of fan support and engagement, I would have no doubt that it would go down extremely well.
The NFL has many factors to consider and will have to weigh up the costs and benefits. They will have to look at it from the players/coaches/teams’ perspectives, as they are the key components in all of this. If the level of performance will suffer, then it would be a disservice to the paying fans of the UK. I believe with the level of demand, the fans would love the idea of it. However, currently I do not believe it will work as well as the current model but I am all for innovation. Maybe the International Series could involve teams and players that you wouldn’t expect to see, i.e. Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, etc. They could use the Pro Bowl as an additional opportunity to expand into the European market, allowing them to showcase the premier talent in the game.
At this present moment, I see difficulties in the logistics and impact it may have on performances. However, I am open to change and will be keeping a close eye on whatever happens. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy the NFL and look forward to the playoff games today. STEELERS FOR THE WIN
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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