The BBC has reported that NFL executive Mark Waller has committed to the presence of an NFL team in London within six years. The NFL says that the BBC has gotten it wrong.
“Not true,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email in response to the BBC item. “What Mark Waller said was that when the International Series began in 2007, he felt that in 15 years, if things proceeded successfully, ownership may be in a position to make a decision about having a permanent franchise in the UK.”
Although the possibility of a team moving to London periodically is dangled (especially as the NFL prepares to play one of its various annual games there), it remains impractical, due largely to the travel time involved. Other issues complicate the league’s full-time presence in London, including exchange rates, tax rates, and the reluctance of players to move their families there. As the league increases the inventory of games played in England, it becomes more clear that the best long-term solution consists of staging up to eight neutral-site games there every year.
Then again, with the L.A. vacuum now filled by the Rams, the league will need a new public-money leverage point. Even if no team would move there anytime soon (or ever), look for London eventually to emerge as the “or else” possibility for teams in mid-level markets looking for taxpayers dollars to build or renovate their current American homes.