10 Facts About the NFL in the UK
Last year the National Football League moved its London games to the US because of the pandemic. Now the league is heading back to England for the first time in two years. To celebrate American football’s return to London, here are 10 interesting facts about the history of the NFL in the UK.
- The first NFL game played in the UK was a 1983 exhibition game between the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Vikings won 28–10. Since 1983, NFL teams have played a total of nine exhibition games and 28 regular season games in the UK, all of them in London.
- All nine exhibition games (1983 and 1986–1993) were played at venerable Wembley Stadium in northwest London, which was demolished in 2002 to make way for the new Wembley Stadium.
- Since 2007 all the NFL’s UK match ups have been regular season games, played under the banner of the league’s International Series. Anywhere from one to four games have been played each year, with the exception of 2020, when all the scheduled games were played in the US due to the pandemic.
- Between 2007 and 2015 all the NFL’s UK games were played at the new Wembley Stadium. In 2016 and 2017 three games were also played at Twickenham Stadium in southwest London.
- In 2019, two games were played at Wembley and two were played at the new state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London, home of the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. The stadium has a unique dual-surface field: the grass pitch used for Hotspur games splits into three sections that retract under the South Stand to reveal a synthetic turf field designed for NFL play.
- The award-winning complex— which cost an astonishing £1 billion — is the first stadium outside North America that’s purpose-built to host NFL games. It’s the potential home of a future London-based NFL franchise, which has been discussed off and on for years.
- The stadium’s dedicated, top-of-the-line NFL facilities include a players’ entry tunnel, locker rooms, training areas, medical facilities, a press area, player and family lounges, and a childcare facility. The enormous on-site Spurs Shop devotes a section to NFL merchandise, which can be purchased year-round, and stadium tours include some of the NFL facilities.