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John York calls putting team in London “sort of a shot in the dark”

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Commissioner Roger Goodell finally has said he wants the NFL to put a team in London.  But the NFL still isn’t unanimous about whether it’s a good idea.

According to HJ Mai of SportsBusiness Global, 49ers co-chair John York acknowledged that placing an NFL team in London would be “sort of a shot in the dark.”

“We don’t know that there’s enough support for a team playing eight regular season games and two preseason games in London,” York said.  “But we do know that we can play two and sell them out very quickly and have a lot of fan interest and growing interest.”

York pointed out that, in the six years since the NFL has begun playing regular-season games in London, the concentration of fans attending the games has flipped from predominantly outside London to predominantly inside the London area, and that 40 percent of the fans attending either of the two London NFL games played this season attended both.

The league realizes that one key to expanding the influence of American football will be to encourage more media awareness.  Though the NFL can do little to alter the fact that the major newspapers are still largely ignoring the phenomenon, NFL games have returned to free TV in London this season, after several years of being broadcast by pay channels only.

“Free-to-air TV will raise the awareness of the NFL and increase fan avidity probably more than anything else,” York said. “This year for me, even though I’m over there every year, I’ve seen more interest in terms of sponsorship in the game and discussing how companies can be more involved in the NFL in London, and consumer products with jerseys and everything, the paraphernalia that people buy has increased tremendously.”

Still, the timeline for a full-time franchise isn’t clear, and it will depend on balancing the total NFL investment with the anticipated increase in fan interest.

It also entails working out the various logistical issues that go along with relocating a team to another country, a dilemma that ultimately could be solved by simply staging eight games per year in England featuring different teams in every contest.

The best thing about not sending a team to London could be that exporting what amounts to a full slate of eight regular-season games would allow the NFL to pull back if at any point it seems that the appetite for NFL football isn’t growing, or starts to shrink.

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19 Responses to “John York calls putting team in London “sort of a shot in the dark””
  1. serkeljerks says: Nov 8, 2013 10:57 AM

    And the rest of the common-sense world said “yeah, ya think?!”

  2. nebster21 says: Nov 8, 2013 10:58 AM

    how could this be good for either of the teams? If you are going to play them in London you’re dealing with Jetlag for that game and the game the following week. When they play away games they have to deal with Jet lag that week and the following week. THIS IS STUPID.

  3. assuredmutualdestruction says: Nov 8, 2013 11:02 AM

    Probably has the same chance of success as Aldon Smith staying sober.

  4. touchdownroddywhite says: Nov 8, 2013 11:05 AM

    On the idea of sending 16 games featuring different teams to London, the blowback would be horrendous unless the NFL managed to make it fair. Teams/players are already complaining heavily about the unfairness of playing a Thursday night game against a team who just came off a bye. Imagine a team playing on a short week, in London, against a team that just came off a bye and other such scenarios…

  5. wholelottaawesome says: Nov 8, 2013 11:06 AM

    I wonder how they get geographic info and filter out all the scalpers. When I see data that suggests most people went to 2 games it seems just like American football where seats are gobbled up and sold for a tidy markup.

    They should ask people how much they paid for their ticket and compare to what the face value was.

  6. joetoronto says: Nov 8, 2013 11:06 AM

    A shot in the dark without live bullets.

  7. jayniner says: Nov 8, 2013 11:26 AM

    And while you’re at it, go ahead and call the London team “America’s Team”…

  8. superyooper says: Nov 8, 2013 11:27 AM

    Ok, here we go. Teams already don’t like the London trip and they hate Thursday Night Football. So to tick them off more it’ll go to TNF from London. Teams that are due to play there will have their bye week BEFORE going, thus giving them time to do the feel good stuff and have a long week after to get back to regular time. All games will be played Weeks 5 through 13.

    Sarcasm flag ON.

  9. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 8, 2013 11:30 AM

    There’s enough support if you can build a good team and win football games. The people over in England will love it if their expansion team can annihilate the best of all American football. And it would be pretty easy to build a great team with having startup advantages and a fresh clean book with no bad deals that you are on the hook for. I see domination and a blossoming followership. It’s crazy to not be able to see that.

  10. bubba9er says: Nov 8, 2013 11:41 AM

    How about putting a team in a big city here that doesn’t have one? How can LA not have an NFL team? It has 2 pro teams in most other sports, but can’t find the support for an NFL squad? What’s up with that?

    How about Toronto?
    How about Salt Lake City?

  11. jr4real says: Nov 8, 2013 11:42 AM

    Who?

    like the NFL wants this guy commenting on anything.

  12. upperdecker19 says: Nov 8, 2013 11:44 AM

    “sort of a shot in the dark” = TRANSLATION = “sort of a stupid idea”

  13. FinFan68 says: Nov 8, 2013 11:45 AM

    The league realizes that one key to expanding the influence of American football will be to encourage more media awareness.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Why exactly must the NFL expand the influence of American football? They see $$$ and not much else. Every decision has been based on a bottom-line profit and absolutely zero consideration seems to be given for the overall health of the game itself. If you destroy the product it will be darn hard to profit from it. I’d rather see long-term steady profits than a few years of a spike in profits followed by steady decline.

  14. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 8, 2013 11:49 AM

    English soccer fan Ridley Scott’s NFL concussion movie will DESTROY the NFL’s chances of success in England.

  15. fmc651 says: Nov 8, 2013 11:51 AM

    Instead of putting a team in London. A waste of time. As they like kickball there. Clean up your sport Roger. Stop letting the offenses do what ever they want. Blocking down field on passing plays. Players tackling instead of block for their QB. It used to be you had to have your hands inside to hold. Now they just allow holding. It reminds me of MLB when Bud let players juice and hit 70 HR’s in a season. People enjoy good defense too. And it would be good for the teams that do not have the QB to compete. As it is now the NFL is a game like MLB of the haves and have nots.

  16. doe22us says: Nov 8, 2013 12:59 PM

    You dont have to be a physical presence to grow your sport. Lesson No 1.

  17. slick50ks says: Nov 8, 2013 1:42 PM

    Fire GODell already!

  18. harrisonhits2 says: Nov 8, 2013 2:39 PM

    nebster21 says:

    how could this be good for either of the teams? If you are going to play them in London you’re dealing with Jetlag for that game and the game the following week. When they play away games they have to deal with Jet lag that week and the following week.
    _______________________

    I’ve been to Europe numerous times and have never had jetlag from a flight that short.

    Secondly, these guys fly first class in a chartered plane with no long lines, no getting there hours early, they get escorted through customs as a group.

    The flights are not an issue.

  19. shankheath says: Nov 9, 2013 6:05 AM

    Went over for the jags vs 49ers game a couple of weeks ago, and after discussing it with uk fans, they don’t really want a team. They enjoy the novelty of having 2 games there, and were quite candid about not having enough money to go to more than 2 a year. Do some more homework before making a huge mistake GODel!

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