There are tangible signs of increasing fan interest in London, prompting some to wonder whether the city could permanently host an NFL franchise.
Entering Sunday’s action, ratings for NFL coverage on two major outlets–Sky Sports and the BBC networks–were up 80%. As was noted here recently, increased viewership and media rights could come into play down the road. For all of their hype, the London games have not been a source of profit for the NFL, but league officials have expressed confidence that media rights and increasing ticket sales will help reverse the trend.
While that could amount to a more viable outlook for a permanent London NFL franchise, other issues remain, including logistics and the lack of available teams. Scheduling games in London requires a great deal of logistical planning, and could create more challanges when it comes to regularly scheduling bye weeks. Furthermore, only the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are likely candidates to move at this time, and it would probably take a lot of losing stadium efforts in the U.S. for either of those teams to move abroad.
Previous-mentioned candidates, meanwhile, seem less likely to move. More from the New York Daily News:
There is less noise these days about the Jacksonville Jaguars being the likely relocating franchise. The Jaguars’ owner, Shahid Khan, also owns Fulham Football Club in the U.K. Adding a 33rd franchise to the mix, though, would seem a difficult task and a potential further watering down of the league as a whole.
Plus, there are reactions from players such as Giants defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison about the prospect of having to face a London team in the fold.
“That’d be tough,” Harrison said. “The road teams would have to go 6-10 hours across the world. I think it would be good for football, but I’d have to stay in the states.”
Even in the absence of a regular franchise, the NFL is stepping up its international efforts, including future games in London. One of the more eagerly anticipated developments down the road is the opening of the new Tottenham stadium (shown above), which will be equipped to host both NFL and Premier League action. In fact, stadium planners have discussed the possibility of the new stadium will host both leagues in the same day.
Image courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur F.C.