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League moves toward “home” teams for foreign games

Last year, Peter King reported that the league’s international experiment could soon feature one team making the trek to foreign soil on a regular basis, in the hopes of creating a stronger rooting interest.

Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the plan is very much alive, and that it would be unveiled at the earliest as part of the new labor deal.

“[What] we learned in the U.K. and Mexico and Canada is ultimately you get fans, and to develop that into avid fans . . . they have to have a team to root for, a team to love, the way you do that is to have enough games so one team can come back on a regular basis,” NFL chief marketing officer Mark Waller told Kaplan.  “If you only have one game and different teams every year, it’s not enough.”

Waller also hinted that the league will eventually play four games per year in England — with two featuring the same teams on a “repeat” basis.

The prime candidates for a regular appearance at Wembley Stadium would be the teams that can’t sell out their American venues.  The Jaguars and the Bucs are getting less than 50,000 fans to show up on a consistent basis; in England, the annual NFL game draws more than 80,000.

But here’s the unspoken yet inevitable reality.  The teams chosen to build a fan base in England become the most likely to eventually move there.

Right now, we’d bet on the Bucs becoming one of the teams to regularly play in Britain — and on the Bucs becoming one of the eventual candidates to pack up the literal Mayflower and sail back to the land from which the earliest American immigrants came.

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55 Responses to “League moves toward “home” teams for foreign games”
  1. Bird Man says: Mar 29, 2010 9:03 AM

    The earliest American immigrants weren’t English.

  2. mrzazz41387 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:04 AM

    Does anyone else see the competitive disadvantage, to having a team in England. People already claim the hike over to the west coast is hard, never mind a flight to England.

  3. SlimPickens says: Mar 29, 2010 9:05 AM

    Britain Buccaneers, I like it!!

  4. it's not an (amani) toomer says: Mar 29, 2010 9:07 AM

    can you imagine what the london papers would say if a premier league team was ‘moivng’ to New York

  5. drumbug71 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:08 AM

    If the NFL goes global, would they have to rename it to the World Football League?

  6. mtsl500 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:14 AM

    I’m sure the Brits are lining up to root for another team owned by the Glazers. Especially since they are gearing up to perform a Manchester Tea Party.

  7. cover2blitz0 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:20 AM

    moving the bucs to england how idiotic we have a solid fan base here… I dont even wanna think about losing the bucs

  8. sniperhare says: Mar 29, 2010 9:20 AM

    The Jaguars are not allowed to play “Home games” away from their stadium. It’s in the lease with the city.

  9. jj jones says: Mar 29, 2010 9:20 AM

    Better to say the Bucs because the “Shaguars” joke was running out of steam.

  10. JAG880 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:21 AM

    Yeah, those are the only two teams with attendance problems.

  11. r8rsfan says: Mar 29, 2010 9:22 AM

    Raiders in Mexico City seems inevitable.

  12. psj3809 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:23 AM

    I’m from the UK and i cant see it working. During the WLAF years the Monarchs got 75,000 during the 1991 season (Won the World Bowl), the following year 30-35k as people didnt want to bother going to watch a losing team.
    If the Bucs/Jaguars come to England they’ll do well with the attendance at first, but once that team loses constantly then fans will stay away.
    Also the time factor, a 6pm game would finish at 9.30pm in London, a 9pm slot would be impossible as it would finish about 00.30 and then everyone has to get back for work on the monday from all over the country.
    The second the ‘London’ Bucs/Jags go 4-12 fans will stay away in droves.
    I love the NFL and an english franchise sounds great but i cant see it working out well

  13. The Real Shuxion says: Mar 29, 2010 9:24 AM

    Bird Man says:
    March 29, 2010 9:03 AM
    The earliest American immigrants weren’t English.
    ————————————————-
    They were robots.

  14. Real Vikings fans wouldn't cheer for Favre says: Mar 29, 2010 9:25 AM

    I’d smoke weed right before the combine to avoid being drafted to the UK if they had a top pick.

  15. mulletious says: Mar 29, 2010 9:29 AM

    First things first, as one poster stated – the earliest American immigrants were not English. Stay out of history topics please.
    It will be tough to gain the following of foreigners without a winning team to “root” for. Hopefully the team that goes there has a shot at showing their stuff or continues on to the playoffs. Either way, one game with 80,000 fans doesn’t translate into much, for now it is just a mini side show to their version of football.

  16. DCPowerGator says: Mar 29, 2010 9:31 AM

    i remember when PFT and florio used to make fun of peter king… those were the days (sigh)

  17. Kevin from Philly says: Mar 29, 2010 9:31 AM

    First you say a pro football team will move to England, then you say it’s the Buccaneers – make up your mind.

  18. Furious_D says: Mar 29, 2010 9:37 AM

    How much of pain in the ass (AND disadvantage) will it be for a London based team to travel to the west coast or a west coast team to travel to London.
    I’d bet most players and almost all fans think this stinks.

  19. .Vox Veritas. says: Mar 29, 2010 9:37 AM

    “and on the Bucs becoming one of the eventual candidates to pack up the literal Mayflower and sail back to the land from which the earliest American immigrants came.”
    Siberia would be a good place for them.

  20. mtsl500 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:38 AM

    mrzazz has a point. I’m sure top tier free agents are going to line up to play/live in a country where income tax for incomes over 150,000 is 50%, not to mention they have to pay towards national healthcare, and sales tax is approaching 18% … ask the NBA how many people want to go play in Canada for the same reason

  21. FumbleNuts says: Mar 29, 2010 9:40 AM

    Scrip clubs could open up all over England.

  22. rob20819 says: Mar 29, 2010 9:41 AM

    Where do you get this crap? How can you lump the Buc’s with the Jag’s problems getting fans in the seats? Up till this past season (and even at that the games all were sold out) thaere was an 80,000 seat waiting list! A 3-13 record will keep some fans away. This IS NOT/HAS NOT been a problem prior to the 3-13 year. Every crap article like this piece of garbage further shows me what a complete clueless a$$ you are Florio…get of your lazy behind and find a REAL story that actually has even some semblance of truth….I can see it now….”Florio actually gets a story right!” Now that would be a first!!

  23. Magnakai Haaskivi says: Mar 29, 2010 9:42 AM

    Where would they play? Wembley might be alright for a one or two times a year exhibition event, but they’re not going to let a football team use their national team’s home stadium eight times a year for home games; the field’s already terrible as it is. Plus, no soccer stadium of decent capacity would let the NFL dig up their pitches in some kind of a “grounds share” program (not to mention that the biggest ones in London, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates, are pretty much being used during the week and on the weekend), and there really isn’t much of a public financing option available in the U.K. for a new stadium.
    Moving abroad really doesn’t make that much sense; playing abroad, however, does. I don’t think a team’s ever going to move over there full time.

  24. Ollie says: Mar 29, 2010 9:48 AM

    The NFL and its greed, like all big business, will not be happy until they destroy this great institution. Enough is never enough!!
    32 teams and even divisions, not enough. Need 34.
    16 game season, not enough. Need 18.
    #1 sport in America, not enough. Need Europe.

  25. Gelardia says: Mar 29, 2010 9:48 AM

    I can’t imagine the NFLPA or the owners liking, let alone agreeing, to this idea.
    It might be fun in the preseason but it’s too much stress in the regular season.

  26. Marv_Sleezy says: Mar 29, 2010 9:49 AM

    They should have the Patriots play in England. They could be called the Expatriots.
    That said, playing en England just isnt sustainable unless its less than a 4 hour flight. Why did they get rid of the concord?

  27. jd says: Mar 29, 2010 9:49 AM

    London Patriots!
    Brixton Redskins!

  28. WarrenMoonGOAT says: Mar 29, 2010 9:53 AM

    why was my comment not posted? it wasn’t even a crack on your wife this time Florio

  29. Brewster says: Mar 29, 2010 9:59 AM

    “[What] we learned in the U.K. and Mexico and Canada is ultimately you get fans, and to develop that into avid fans . . . they have to have a team to root for, a team to love, the way you do that is to have enough games so one team can come back on a regular basis,” NFL chief marketing officer Mark Waller told Kaplan. “If you only have one game and different teams every year, it’s not enough.”
    ______________________
    This is an admission, a blinding flash of the obvious, that once again the NFL’s experiment into foreign countries is not working. The annual games they’ve been trumping as a success are not exactly up to the necessary level of fan support to house a permanent team. So they want to place a team there permanently and build a fan base.
    And you wonder why ticket prices to NFL games are so high. It’s to support misguided attempts at expanding the fan base in new markets while ignoring the fan base in existing markets.
    Spend away suckers support your favorite NFL team and watch your hard earned dollars go abroad.

  30. Markus2112 says: Mar 29, 2010 10:00 AM

    The Bucs are rebuilding and when they are competitive fans will be back so stick England up your bung hole Flo- rio

  31. RiskyDave says: Mar 29, 2010 10:00 AM

    As a UK NFL fan I can tell you that there is actually a lot of debate here about a UK-based team. This is not because football does not have a strong following (though it is very definitely a minority sport), but because of a variety of other factors, including:
    1) There is now no longer any free TV coverage on a regular basis – it is all through pay channels which is still mionority viewing here. This makes it difficult to develop understanding of and support for the NFL product;
    2) The practical logistics of flying a team between the US and the UK on a regular basis are immense (though not insurmountable). This makes building “home” team support very difficult (and I’d hate to think what the carbon footpriont would be. Don’t think that this is some eco-friendly rubbish – the green question is probably more important in Europe than it is in the US and is taken VERY seriously);
    3) Yes we can fill Wembly with 80-90,000 once or twice per year and it is a great event (I go every year and love it), but many of the crowd are travelling the length of the country at great cost. Spending the equivalent of $400-500 per game is just not practical on a regular basis for most people and London is not necessarily the best place to host a team.
    4) The NFL is quintisentially American. This is a huge part of the appeal to us! Somehow, internationalising it feels like it lessens the product (to me, at least);
    5) There is little understanding of the game outside of its existing fans. It would be much like us Brits trying to develop a strong cricket presence in the US (go and Google the sport if you haven’t heard of it). There is often a (misguided) comparison in the UK between NFL and rugby – this seems to based on the similarity of the shape of the football and not much else, but it is a factor and causes anti-NFL bias in “neutrals”;
    6) Soccer is absolutely the number 1 sport in this country (can’t stand it myself – full of prima donnas lol), is very well financed, supported and covered in the media and embedded down to the very lowest levels of our society. Trying to take market share from this is immensely difficult (other sports are also trying – and failing!).
    In summary, there is a relatively small but very loyal and knowledgable audience in the UK for the NFL product. Fan attendance from other European countries would be minimal (travel is still relatively expensive by comparison with internal travel in the US) and therefore the NFL would have to build a UK fanbase. Make no mistake that there is some desire amongst NFL UK fans for a team, but it is by no means unanimous. If the NFL wants to expand into this market (and it appears that it does) then the very first thing that needs to be done is to broaden the free-to-air TV coverage in some way.
    BTW, the question of overseas ownership of teams does not seem to be a huge issue for UK sports fans. We have the Glazers owning one of the most recognised sports franchises in the world with Manchester United, but other top teams are also owned by Russians (Chelsea) and Arabs (Manchester City) for example.
    Anyway, though this might bring a UK perspective to the discussion.

  32. TFBuckFutter says: Mar 29, 2010 10:01 AM

    I’m curious if anyone else knows that for the teams designated as “Home” in the overseas games….that team’s season ticket holders still have to pay for the tickets for that game.
    And if they choose to travel to foreign soil to watch it….they have to BUY ANOTHER TICKET.
    That has to be one of the biggest ripoffs of a league notorious for it.

  33. DaMayan says: Mar 29, 2010 10:07 AM

    Well at least then the “World Championship” title would have some merrit.

  34. DC_Bengals_Fan says: Mar 29, 2010 10:09 AM

    NFL has enough problems now with their operations in America. There’s no way they can do this without losing American fans, and there’s no way that a team in England will ever be viable.
    Under Goodell’s leadership, I fear that the NFL’s days as the best-run American sport are nearing their end.
    At most I might buy a team in Toronto or Mexico City, since they’re closer and the time zones overlap America. But I think the better bet would be to simply work on making the game better in America – which means making the games more fun, and hopefully more affordable, to attend.

  35. DrakeDB says: Mar 29, 2010 10:11 AM

    A franchise in Britain would be too dumb for words. The competitive disadvantage would be enormous in terms of attracting free agents and top-notch coaches.
    Players would be in a constant state of jet-lag, unless the team would be the only NFL squad to go on extended road trips like baseball.
    UK weather in the fall is generally dismal.
    Maybe someone ought to drug-test NFL headquarters.

  36. Jungle Juice says: Mar 29, 2010 10:11 AM

    The London Jaguars would have a nice ring to it especially with a British accent.
    Oh and there were the early Asians, who became Native Americans, and then the Vikings who were immigrants before the English.

  37. BigBlueDeadHead says: Mar 29, 2010 10:11 AM

    Why don;t they just keep their ‘football’ there and we keep ours here, OK?

  38. DrakeDB says: Mar 29, 2010 10:13 AM

    A franchise in Britain would be too dumb for words. The competitive disadvantage would be enormous in terms of attracting free agents and top-notch coaches.
    Players would be in a constant state of jet-lag, unless the team would be the only NFL squad to go on extended road trips like baseball.
    UK weather in the fall is generally dismal.
    Maybe someone ought to drug-test NFL headquarters.

  39. bh103 says: Mar 29, 2010 10:20 AM

    mrzazz41387 says:
    March 29, 2010 9:04 AM
    Does anyone else see the competitive disadvantage, to having a team in England. People already claim the hike over to the west coast is hard, never mind a flight to England.
    Most people here are shortsighted. They can’t see the numerous disadvantages.

  40. Yak says: Mar 29, 2010 10:20 AM

    Keep the NFL in the USA!!! Stop sending out regular season games over there. If I lost a home game to that I would be super pissed off!! Send the fake (preseason) games over. The Europeans won’t care if the game matters anyways!!

  41. winkel33 says: Mar 29, 2010 10:25 AM

    What happens when a team from the NFC/AFC west has to make it over to England? It just will never end I guess the lengths those who run the sport will be willing to hurt the competition all in an attempt to make more money.
    And here is something else – maybe England will come around on football. But just because they turn out for one game a year, doesn’t mean there will ever be a consistent fan base. Reportedly, the league cherry picked the information they wanted from last year’s game to show there was interest, when in fact, the interest was at best, lukewarm. For decades now, soccer has been shoved down our throats here in the US. And while for some games, there will be crowds – we as a country still have not really taken to the sport. Are we in turn going to do the same thing to England with football?

  42. Markus2112 says: Mar 29, 2010 10:25 AM

    Goodell needs to give this up, or he’s just trying to use it for a bargaining chip with the players union. This commish doesn’t have a clue!

  43. theravenlives2 says: Mar 29, 2010 10:27 AM

    I think they should make the Redskins the new English team. That way, Dan Snyder can sign David Beckham to play tight end. hey, he’s washed up, but he has some fan recognition and somethings with Danny Boy never change!
    Just think of the possibilities. I can hear it now with the British announcers…”what a smashing tackle by Mr. Haynesworth. He might give a better go of it if he laid off the fish and chips, though!”

  44. skaybaltimore says: Mar 29, 2010 10:31 AM

    RiskyDave definitely knows what he’s talking about. It makes total sense. What the NFL is suggesting does NOT make sense. How about RiskyDave for NFL commish?
    ;0)))

  45. spdy3450 says: Mar 29, 2010 10:58 AM

    The earliest American immigrants came on the mayflower? Really Florio? You’re an idiot!

  46. Warpstone says: Mar 29, 2010 10:59 AM

    Urr… I don’t understand why everyone is automatically assuming more games in the UK. It seems to me Canadian and Mexican markets are probably the easiest to expand into on a permanent basis. You also have the advantage that die-hard US fans can still road-trip it to some “home games.”

  47. BroncoBourque says: Mar 29, 2010 11:09 AM

    This is a good idea in theory but I don’t think it will make the games any more successful in these foreign cities. I live just over an hour away from Toronto and I know one of the reasons the Bills in Toronto package isn’t working as well as hoped is that people in the area already have teams they root for. The concept that because you have a team play out of a location once per year is going to convince those people to addopt that team as their own just doesn’t work. It might work for very casual fans but anyone who is an avid fan and has a team already won’t even consider a switch unless Toronto gets their own team, not just a 1 or 2 game sideshow of someone else’s team.
    They also overpriced the seats to the point where it is cheaper for someone to drive the 2 hours from Toronto to Buffalo and get premium seats than it is to get nosebleeds in Toronto. Add in the fact that the Rogers Centre where they play the games isn’t very good for football and that is why it hasn’t been a big success.
    I don’t imagine the game in London will become any better with a team making the trip every year for all the same reasons.

  48. Gam(e)_is_on says: Mar 29, 2010 11:12 AM

    Mayby Glazer should do a fire-sale and throw the BUCS into the deal when he sells ManU to the Red Knights.

  49. kpweaver27 says: Mar 29, 2010 11:19 AM

    The hubris within these concepts is alarming, that much is certain. This poster hit it right on:
    “Ollie says:
    March 29, 2010 9:48 AM
    The NFL and its greed, like all big business, will not be happy until they destroy this great institution. Enough is never enough!!
    32 teams and even divisions, not enough. Need 34.
    16 game season, not enough. Need 18.
    #1 sport in America, not enough. Need Europe.”
    The NFL powers that be believe that the league is untouchable and can only keep getting better. We might have a lockout on our hands, and they are talking about an expansion that would never work for most of the reasons listed above? Listen Goodell. Your league is good now, but just ask Fay Vincent and Bud Selig about the invulnerability of a sport. This isn’t a xenophobic comment but, I live in a state with an NFL team–the Colts. Some of my tax dollars have gone to renovate that stadium to draw tourism. I would not be happy if even one regular season game was played somewhere else. As a taxpayer, not just as a fan, I insist they play where we paid to have them play.

  50. GoBrowns19 says: Mar 29, 2010 11:53 AM

    When I read stories like this is really makes me question the future of the NFL. Move the team to L.A. or Utah, or Boise even…don’t make it a laughable league please!!!!!!!!!

  51. RiskyDave says: Mar 29, 2010 1:05 PM

    Skaybaltimore: “How about RiskyDave for NFL commish?”
    As I’ve just lost my job it would be a pleasure. Where do I sign?
    As a Vikings fan I’d have to move the NFL to Minnesota, though :-)

  52. Slow Joe says: Mar 29, 2010 2:22 PM

    “I’m curious if anyone else knows that for the teams designated as “Home” in the overseas games….that team’s season ticket holders still have to pay for the tickets for that game.
    And if they choose to travel to foreign soil to watch it….they have to BUY ANOTHER TICKET.
    That has to be one of the biggest ripoffs of a league notorious for it.”
    ==============================
    Dude, what in the hell are you talking about? I have season tix to the Bucs and we only paid for nine games this past year because of the one game that was in London.

  53. brasho says: Mar 29, 2010 3:48 PM

    Flori-hole, you need to stop making stupid comments that have basis in fact or reason and actually think these things out. The Bucs aren’t moving: they have a new stadium, the Glazers would know better than to bring another franchise to England becauase even though the Brits hate the Glazers they’ll never boycott Manchester United but they sure as heck would do everything in their power to keep the Bucs from ever selling tickets.

  54. TFBuckFutter says: Mar 29, 2010 4:12 PM

    “Slow Joe says:
    March 29, 2010 2:22 PM
    Dude, what in the hell are you talking about? I have season tix to the Bucs and we only paid for nine games this past year because of the one game that was in London.”
    Weird.
    I have a friend with club seats to the Bucs, and he had to pay for all 10 games, and he opted to travel to London for the game, and had to purchase a ticket there too.
    I told him that didn’t sound right and he assured me that the package is for 10 home games period.

  55. TFBuckFutter says: Mar 29, 2010 4:14 PM

    Of course, he has a shit ton of money so he may not have noticed a $1500 difference from one year to the next….
    Thanks though, Slow Joe. I have wondered about it. Perhaps there’s a difference, or he could just be wrong.

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