With the NFL prepared to play its fourth annual regular-season game at Wembley Stadium in London, Commissioner Roger Goodell has reiterated a distinct possibility regarding the future of pro football in England.
Speaking at panel discussion of the Global Sport Summit in London, Goodell addressed the growth of the NFL in countries other than the U.S. of A., and he said that the league is seeing progress in this regard.
“All of that leads to a fan that’s more avid,” Goodell said, “and we’re seeing that here in this market and we hope to continue that growth. We’ve said frequently that it possibly could lead to a franchise here in the UK.”
As to more immediate possibilities, Goodell was more guarded. He said that the league considered playing more than one game in England during the 2010 season, but that the idea was shelved due to the CBA uncertainties. “We felt we had to fix that priority before we engaged in multiple games here, but it is very much our intent to be playing multiple games here,” Goodell said.
Goodell explained that playing multiple games in London will be a precursor to placement of a team there on a permanent basis. “I think the next step will be multiple games and if that’s successful then I think the idea of a franchise here is realistic,” Goodell said. “As far as a timetable, I’ll just say one thing: I’m not as concerned about doing it with any sort of a time frame other than as fast as is practical, but you want to be successful. That’s more important to me than making it fit within any sort of time frame.”
Goodell emphasized that he’s also not twiddling his thumbs in this regard. “Don’t mistake me as being patient,” he said. “I’m not a very patients individual.” And so he said that it’s “very possible” an NFL team will be headquartered in London during Goodell’s tenure as NFL Commissioner.