America’s game could be heading for a permanent home in the England capital.
After 15 games and seven years of bringing regular season NFL games to the capital could this turn into a long-term relationship for the league and London?
As the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to lock horns at Wembley this weekend, fanatix editors Sumeet Paul and Scott Hazlewood delve into the issue of the NFL potentially being based full-time at Wembley.
Scott Hazlewood: So you and I have talked about this before Sumeet and we both agree an NFL team will never be based full-time in London, but why don’t you think it’s a good idea?
Sumeet Paul: It would be a logistical nightmare. While it’s a great idea to bring the game to London for the passionate fans here, for teams to have to make the away trip for an actual franchise would be difficult.
It might be manageable for East Coast teams to make a relatively short trip, but journeys from the West Coast to London would undoubtedly disrupt schedules with mini-camps and preparation.
SH: That is a good point because of jet-lag and other factors not everybody would be able to land on Thursday and then play on the weekend, and that in turn would cause a short turnaround for the traveling team when they play back in the US the following week
And given how short the regular season is relative to, say, the English Premier League season, losing two to three games could kill a team’s chances to make the playoffs
Another problem I have with this maybe turning into a full-time arrangement is support, or potentially a lack thereof.
Maybe you can answer this better having been born in England but really how many people support the NFL here?
Back In Australia there are a smattering of die-hard fans that do follow their team from afar.
But when it comes to cracking the England market full-time trying to compete not just with the EPL but also all of the other major leagues in Europe makes it almost impossible at this time of the year.
SP: Based on ticket sales there is definitely a huge fanbase in the UK especially when compared to the NBA games where sales have been slow, the NFL has sold both games out this year in no time.
However, perhaps with the introduction of a “home” franchise and regular games, there might be a danger the novelty wears off.
SH: Looking through the attendance figures you’re right there are normally been upwards of 80,000 fans go to the six other regular season games that have come to London and they have featured some pretty ordinary teams.
If the NFL was to make a home here they would have to organise an expansion team as no city in America would be willing to give up their team so London could have one.
I have seen back home with other football codes franchise teams can open a can of worms, as they often struggle to be competitive early, have poor attendance figures, low income plus if they are given draft pick help and money by the NFL other teams doing it tough in America can, justifiably, cry poor.
SP: That’s another great point. The initial struggle of attempting to be competitive could also have a negative impact on ticket sales and revenue and therefore raise early questions over whether or not the venture could be successful both financially and on the field.
SH: On a funny side of things I question whether Americans would take a London side seriously.
When I think about this topic I always think of The Family Guy episode where Peter Griffin gets traded from New England to the London Silly Nannies.
But really, if Budweiser and McDonalds could have a child it would be the NFL, that’s how American it is
SP: Very true. You can see why the NFL want to do it, it continues the globalisation process of the game and opens up more financial rewards.
Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce recently compared how “soccer” and the World Cup has a “country camaraderie” behind it, but spreading the NFL across the pond is a completely different proposition.
SH: You’ve mentioned before the logistics of the competition prevent it from spreading too far afield.
As I said I know of a few friends back home who support an NFL side, but to take a game that far to Australia wouldn’t be possible.
But there are other issues as well, working visas, tax rates are different in the UK compared to America as well as players maybe leaving their families behind.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said when asked about moving “If they paid me, of course” but he is on a six-year $72 million deal at the moment.
I know we have seen some insane money thrown around for a couple of guys from Real Madrid recently, but what Russian or Middle Eastern businessman thinks an NFL team in London is going to be a good investment?
OK enough of the bashing of the London idea there is still a game to be played this weekend, two teams go in 0-3, one team will get their season kick-started who’s it going to be in your mind?
SP: Steelers win. Big Ben Roethlisberger to turn it on and lead Pittsburgh to first win of the season.
SH: I agree they have more to lose by going down 0-4 and in a way but fans should see two pretty desperate sides and hopefully a good game because it’s pretty much season over for whoever is on the wrong side of the scoreline.