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Chelsea soccer star not sure NFL will survive in London

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As the NFL hopes to invade the U.K. in the same way the Beatles and other bands invaded the U.S. in the ’60s, a star soccer player from England thinks that pro football may not have too bright of a future in London.

I’m not sure,” Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard told Dan Patrick on Tuesday regarding whether the NFL can survive there.  “I’m not sure.  I think it’s very different cultures, in sporting terms.  And I think we find that’s why the MLS is sort of growing here.  But it’s never had the history of the other sports in America, and the same with England.  So I’m not sure.  We’re very sort of set in our ways about sports.  So it’s a tough one to say.”

Lampard has a point, but the NFL isn’t implementing a five-year or even a 10-year plan.  This is a long-term effort to change the culture.  Even if it takes 50 or 100 years, the thinking is that eventually the sport will reach in other countries the same tipping point that made the NFL the dominant sport in America.

To get to that tipping point, there needs to be a team around which British fans can rally.

Even if the NFL never overtakes soccer beyond our borders, simply sharing that spotlight with the other kind of fútbol could dramatically expand the revenues realized by the folks who own pro football teams.

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20 Responses to “Chelsea soccer star not sure NFL will survive in London”
  1. ukdude7 says: Jul 18, 2012 8:08 AM

    I think the NFL is very naive and arrogant if it thinks there’s a ‘tipping point’ that other countries will finally get American Football. What’s to say the real tipping point won’t be the other way round and America will have a tipping point with soccer? It’s certainly alot closer than NFL in the UK. We’ve had 5 International games over here and still the NFLuk office needs the help of cheerleaders to get any serious type of mainstream media attention in the week’s build up to the game.

    We also need to realise Florio has a vested interest in the NFL becoming international. More clicks and page views mean more money for Mike. So there won’t be any dissenting voice on here about games being taken away from US fans.

    I live in London but I want my NFL to stay American thanks. It is a domestic Football league that should be left in the country of the fans that helped build it up to the success it is today. Can’t help feeling the greedy owners will eventually make the NFL eat itself.

  2. smith62477 says: Jul 18, 2012 8:09 AM

    The NFL is not the global sport it and a lot fans thinks it is. Most of the people who attend the London game are americans abroad. NFL can not comin London on sundays will not be able to week in and week out get the crowds the get for one game. Way too many EPL teams based in London to compete for the entertainment dollar.

  3. meatfish66 says: Jul 18, 2012 8:21 AM

    as a huge NFL fan from the UK, he’s either completely correct, or completely wrong, depending on what he means by the “NFL” not surviving here.

    If he is referring to an NFL franchise in London, then he’s completely correct, it probably wouldn’t survive.

    If he’s referring to the annual International Series game, or games, if they expand it, then he’s wrong. I think the IS games could take a minor hit in popularity due to the Rams coming over three years in a row (who wants to see the Rams except for Rams fans?), but if they NFL is smart about it, and keeps changing which teams come over, I don’t think they’d ever fail to sell out Wembley at least once a year.

  4. eaglesw00t says: Jul 18, 2012 8:35 AM

    Who wants it to survive in London?

    How many players honestly like the idea of having to make a 12 hour (or however many to London) flight and have their internal clocks all screwed up?

    Game schedules are already tight enough with Thursday and Monday games. Lets not add an entire day of travel there, and an entire day of travel back as a regular part of the schedule.

    Most players who have played in the England game didnt have anything nice to say about the travel part.

  5. andyukbronco says: Jul 18, 2012 8:44 AM

    I’m a Broncos fan from the UK. Would I change my allegiance and become of a London NFL team? Probably not.

  6. morrits69 says: Jul 18, 2012 9:19 AM

    Despite a large number of passionate, loyal fans in the uk American football will always be a minority sport. International series games in London are a good day out but do not resemble the atmosphere of a “proper” NFL game, main reason is the majority of fans are neutral and there is no home field advantage

  7. nepaseahawk says: Jul 18, 2012 9:32 AM

    im pretty sure the 8 hour flight to london is the best reason why it will never work. the world league folded after a few years and as I remember from the games I saw the seats were not packed by any means. Europe has their own football and its called soccer

  8. joetoronto says: Jul 18, 2012 9:40 AM

    There’s no way this will ever get off the ground.

    Between the logistical nightmare it is and the difference in cultures, there’s no hope.

  9. jlb10 says: Jul 18, 2012 10:00 AM

    i seriously doubt that in 50 or a 100 years that the tipping point will be any closer than it is today. i think the nfl is fooling itself if it thinks that american football will ever be a main stream sport in europe

  10. andrewjabernathy says: Jul 18, 2012 10:10 AM

    Aside from the logistics nightmare of scheduling, time zones, and distance traveled, you have to understand whether or not there is a niche to latch onto in the UK.

    Soccer controls EVERYTHING in most parts of the world, especially in the UK where it was invented. The niche of large people crashing into each other over an oblong ball is already filled by rugby, another wildly popular sport (but nowhere near as popular as soccer).

    Rugby and soccer are culturally interwoven into how people in the UK are brought up and the natives are very protective of that history. If you don’t think they will be offended or condescending to anything American attempting a reverse Beatles, then you haven’t had much experience with the British media.

  11. xli2006 says: Jul 18, 2012 10:11 AM

    A game there is one thing, placing a team there is another.

    The NBA and NFLs flirt with the prospect of international teams need to end. Games not teams.

  12. rammoram says: Jul 18, 2012 10:44 AM

    “im pretty sure the 8 hour flight to london is the best reason why it will never work.”

    NFL needs to buy up all the decommissioned Concorde’s to make it work lol

    UK Rams fan for the last 13 years I watch every game and only go to the International game because as one user put its “a good day out” (different this year of course ;))

    To fill the stadium they are going to require people to shift their allegiance or attract new fans. If I went to all the London Teams home games then I’d miss half the Rams season. Not going to happen! Bugs me when I miss just the one.

    (I understand missing Rams games may be considered a blessing due to the crap being produced in the last half decade+. It doesn’t need saying)

  13. gbsoccer6 says: Jul 18, 2012 11:16 AM

    Trying to establish a NFL team in London shows how arrogant the NFL is. If they would do their homework they would realize that people in England don’t care about the NFL. The NBA is actually more popular in England then the NFL. When the NFL plays games across the pond, games don’t sell out and majority of people there are Americans. I love the NFL but it just does not translate across the world like soccer. Soccer runs too deep in England for the NFL to even scratch the surface. To use a cliche don’t fix it, if it isn’t broken

  14. wittenisgod says: Jul 18, 2012 11:55 AM

    To say that the crowd is made up of americans abroad is so stupid im english and go every year. And to actually hear an american accent is a novelty in itself. Everyone is english there.

  15. Wolfgang Depner says: Jul 18, 2012 12:40 PM

    Lampard identifies, what I believe to be the biggest obstacle in the NFL expanding to Europe – the lack of cultural connection between American football and Europe.

    While soccer has had a less than illustrious history in the US until recently as a spectator sport, soccer has always been part of the American fabric in shape or another, from amateur teams in ‘ethnic’ neighbourhoods to national competitions such as the US Open Cup to various professional leagues (pre-MLS) that have left behind an imprint, if not legacy (see NY Cosmos and Pele).

    American football, on the other hand, did not make it to Europe until the second half of the 20th century, record mixed, see NFL Europe. If American football can develop an institutional infrastructure in UK, or anywhere in Europe, that resembles anything the soccer infrastructure in US (and we are not just talking MLS, but also 17 Million kids who play the game regularly), then the NFL has a chance.

  16. dkalev says: Jul 18, 2012 1:02 PM

    I’m glad that the only two sports I watch are soccer and football… NY giants ny red bulls real Madrid all the way!

  17. granadafan says: Jul 18, 2012 1:09 PM

    The US will become a soccer power before the NFL succeeds in Europe, and especially in the UK. Each region has their own sports woven into society and are actually quite similar. Four wildly popular sports, cricket and rugby are similar enough to baseball and American football, respectively, such that neither will replace the other in each other’s country.

    Soccer, hower, is quite different and is gaining in popularity and in skill in the US, slowly but surely. The European powerhouse teams that visit the US every summer sell out the stadiums. If even a tenth of the best US athletes switched to soccer, then the US would be power in no time.

  18. thegreatgabbert says: Jul 18, 2012 1:48 PM

    More likely to happen the other way round. Soccer overtaking football in North America. That’s inevitable.

  19. joestrummer4793 says: Jul 18, 2012 2:07 PM

    FIrst of all travel is possible. The Super 15 travels between South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and soon Argentina and Japan. So going between the States and Europe isnt that crazy.

    Second the NFL shouldn’t just have London, i say a team in Germany as well. In Germany there are more American Football fans than Rugby fans. Frankfurt had an NFL Europe team for 16 years, drawing just under 30,000 a game. For NFL Europe thats very impressive. This would reduce some travel.

    I have tons of family in the UK (I’m Canadian) and a lot of people are interested in American/Canadian Football. And the Superbowl is a HUGE deal (the rest of the season however isnt). I think it could work in London. Compare it to the NHL when it expanded and relocated weaker teams to the Southern USA. At the time the idea of pro hockey in Florida and Georgia and such seemed crazy. Some didn’t survive such as Atlanta and soon Phoenix but others like San Jose and Tampa have turned into crazy good hockey markets. Maybe London won’t succeed but maybe a team in Germany will. It’s a start. I say do it and hope for the best.

  20. thegreatgabbert says: Jul 18, 2012 2:58 PM

    In Canada they are getting 50,000 fans for soccer games, which never happens for the football teams. I think soccer is at least equal there now as a spectator sport. In Mexico, it’s no contest, so really the U.S. is the only bastion of football supremacy in North America.

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