From 2013 to 2016, London will have a team of its own. Kind of. For one game per year.
The man who runs the league’s London operations says that the decision to bring the Jaguars (Shaguars) to Wembley Stadium annually for four straight seasons is the next step toward putting a team in London, permanently.
“I think the first chapter has been considered a success with the owners voting on a renewal going forward. Jacksonville returning is also a sign of maturity of the concept,” Alistair Kirkwood told Reuters on Thursday. “What this now does is allow us to test if we can bring in more new fans and boost a single team recognition.
“Once that period has come up we will then have learned an awful lot about it and know what the viability for us going forward is and then be in a great position to make a call [on a London franchise].”
Way back in 2009, Peter King reported that the next step in the process indeed would be sending the same team to London for three or four straight years, allowing that team to build up a fan following.
The unanswered question, then, is whether the team that builds a following becomes the most logical team to move. Jaguars fans would be wise to hope that their team doesn’t build much of a following in London.