clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 up, 3 down, should the NFL put a team in London?

The NFL continues to grow its presence in London. This week we check out the pros and cons of moving an NFL franchise to the UK.

NFL at Wembley Stadium
NFL at Wembley Stadium
Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

The reason this NFL in the UK series exists is because the Redskins are playing a game in London this October. The NFL has increased its number of games in London this year to a whopping three including one at Twickenham Stadium. Some believe the NFL is marching towards an inevitable move towards having a team in the UK.

So this week, instead of telling you more stories of my glory days at NTU, I'm going to share three positives and three negatives about having a team in London.

3 ups

There isn't a massive established NFL fan base in the UK

Now don't get me wrong, there are fans of the NFL over here. There's even a brilliantly named fan club for the Jacksonville Jaguars called the Union Jax. My point is that there is room to grow. Think about why the NFL is salivating over the Rams moving to LA. Las Angeles and London are absolutely massive television audiences that the NFL hopes to convert to loyal NFL fans. The parallel is far from perfect since LA has had NFL teams before, including a Super Bowl winner, but the point is that NFL wants to expand and the UK is a relatively untapped area of eyeballs.

By putting a team in London the NFL would be front and center for millions of fans that have only watched the game casually or haven't watched at all. It also may be easier for those fans to attach themselves to a permanent team.

Putting a team in London expands the NFL outside of the United States

The NFL has tried to make American Football in Europe a thing but that was a largely separate league. Sure, some players from NFL Europe had success in the US but ultimately the league didn't work out. By bringing a proper NFL team to the UK, and Europe as a whole, the fans here don't have to see teams that you could only name because you played old versions of Madden.

Moving a team to the UK also opens the doors to having more than one team in Europe. American Football is big in Germany. A mixture of factors including a large US military population has helped the game grow in there. In fact the Vikings drafted Moritz Böehringer directly from Germany earlier this year.

If the NFL succeeds in the UK, they might even make a push to have a division in Europe. That's just me speculating but I do think that between the UK and Germany there could be at least more than one team.

We'd get to hear the NFL commentated in English accents

Idris Elba, Emma Watson, Tom Hiddleston, these are just a few of the people with wonderful accents from this area. I doubt we'd get the star of Luther to cover NFL games but that doesn't mean it wouldn't sound silky smooth to hear some commentators from the UK.

If I've learned anything from every romantic comedy I've seen, which is more than you might expect, it's that when someone is from the UK they're infinitely more attractive.

3 Downs

There isn't a massive established NFL fan base in the UK

The UK is nuts for football (soccer) and loves rugby but American football is a niche sport. You can find local teams over here and there are places to watch NFL games but to be honest it's still a small audience. If a team hopped across the pond it would be done on the hope that interest would grow over time.

Moving the NFL to London would be a massive commitment. Moving thousands of miles and across an ocean would make the NFL reluctant to admit it wasn't successful if it struggled. That could result in hurting a franchise dramatically. If appeal didn't go up over time the NFL would either need to relocate the team again or just leave it there with the hope that things turn around.

There are millions of people here, but there are millions of people lots of places. Supporting a franchise in a city relies on people watching the games, and to a smaller extent people physically attending them. A big part of it is also merchandise sales. But remember from what just happened in St. Louis that supporting a franchise can also involve more than just the size of a fan base.

There's a massive risk in moving a team to London. If the NFL sticks with the rotating series route they can increase or decrease the number of games according to demand. Some feel that an 8 game season pass of rotating teams would be more popular here anyway. Many fans in the UK already have team loyalties and might prefer seeing their own team every few years rather than adopting a new one.

Putting a team in London expands the NFL outside of the United States

N F L. That's the NATIONAL football league. It's not the International football league! Sure MLB, the NHL, and NBA all have teams in Canada but that's not thousands of miles away. I mean, Toronto is further south than half the NFC North. And besides, we all know that football is America's real pastime anyway so it should be a league of teams from the USA right?

Blind patriotism aside, leagues are usually governed by geography. European soccer teams don't play against Brazil on a weekly basis. Travel, culture, local rivalries, and many other factors play a role in league structure. They're all affected by teams being geographically close to each other. While Foxborough is about equidistant from Las Angeles and London, the Patriots play division games in nearby New York City and Buffalo. They also only have to play west coast teams a few times per year. In contrast, every team that plays in London would travel at least 3,000 miles and teams on the west coast would have to travel about 5,000 miles.

We'd get to hear the NFL commentated in English accents

Ya sure, my fiance and some celebrities sound amazing but that doesn't mean we want to hear a bunch of Brits commentating games! Want some proof? Check out this video!

Seriously though, this wouldn't bother me at all. This video is just too good to not include. I think his basketball one is even better.

I guess I could see some fans disliking a foreign accent commentating NFL games but I'm not sure how much of a factor this would be.

So should they move a team to London?

I have no idea to be honest. It's something that could be debated in pubs and bars throughout multiple countries for a long time. I do think the NFL will put a team in London eventually but that isn't the same thing as it being a good idea. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.