“Permanent” London home team could become the league’s London team

Getty Images

This notion of one team playing a home game in London every year is hardly new.  In 2009, Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Football Night in America reported that one team could be sent to London every year, in order to allow the development of a London fan base for that team.

In early 2010, NFL Chief Marketing Officer Mark Waller explained the purpose of having the same team return to London.  “[What] we learned in the U.K. and Mexico and Canada is ultimately you get fans, and to develop that into avid fans . . . they have to have a team to root for, a team to love, the way you do that is to have enough games so one team can come back on a regular basis,” Waller told Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal.  “If you only have one game and different teams every year, it’s not enough.”

Earlier this year, however, we reported that the Bucs’ decision to host two home games in London in three years won’t be a precursor to a move, in part because it would take Tampa out of the loose Super Bowl rotation.

But if one team is going to play a home game in London every year and if the league ever plans to send a team to London on a full-time basis, how can the team that moves to London not be the team that has been playing there every year?  Failure to move that team would be the ultimate tease, especially if the plan indeed results in the creation of a throng of British Bucs fans.

Besides, the NFL’s new reality will mandate shifting teams to the places where the people — and thus the money — reside.  Markets that can’t or won’t support a team will lose that team to a market that can and will, and London may have the population base to fill a stadium on a weekly basis.  The challenge is to give fans there a reason to show up every week.  Giving them a team to fall in love with is the first step.

94 responses to ““Permanent” London home team could become the league’s London team

  1. Not happening, the Buccaneers are locked into a contract with Hillsborough County that keeps the Bucs in Raymond James for at least another 15 years. I doubt the cheap Glazer boys dont want to pay the tab if they reneged on that agreement.

  2. I already have an NFL team as do other fans in the UK/Europe. We don’t want some ‘token’ full time team.

    Let us keep the one game a year. If the NFL wants to expand play a game in Canada, a game in Mexico and a game in Germany too. Rotates who gets the “away” game more often, generates interest and money and doesn’t detract from what is already a great format.

  3. This would be outsourcing and would be unnecessary considering there are markets in the US that would love a team to move there. I don’t think the fan’s of any team would appreciate a team moving out of the country. Maybe the UK will add an expansion team?

  4. I went to the Pats-Bucs game in London.

    The organisers tried to make it seem as much like a Bucs home game as they could but they were let down by the fact that the buccaneers aren’t particularly popular in the UK.

    For a move to really work the team would need to have a relatively large fan base in the UK before they move.

    As a Pats fan, I would support any UK-based NFL team but i feel that many fans would rather support the team that they currently support. Particularly if that team plays significantly better. Which, compared to the Bucs, is most teams.

  5. Don’t they make, drive, and love “Jaguars” in England ?

    But I doubt L.A. will give up their team without a fight.

  6. London may have the population but they don’t have the interest. The games played there thus far have been packed with expats and Americans who made the trip overseas.

    The English simply don’t have an interest in American Football. While it makes sense to have a consistent ‘home team’ year to year I question London as a destination for the first overseas expansion.

    Why not Germany? The London Monarchs were the first NFL Europe team to go under- by the time the League disbanded 5 out of 6 teams played in Germany. I’m not sure about the other teams but I know Frankfurt and Rhein had a huge following and Germans seemed to take a genuine interest in the sport.

  7. Head-slapping.

    I’m an avid British fan. Despite the NFL indulging us and placing belief in the fact that we, you know, ‘understand the rules’ and all that, sometimes we really are patronised to quite outstanding levels.

    Believe it or not, about 99% of us already support teams. Watching one game, on one week out of seventeen, is not going to make me re-align my allegiance away from my current team to the Jaguars or the Bucs, no matter how many free flags you give me at Wembley. I think most would feel the same.

    I’ve laid out my feelings on any potential second game here: http://www.anygivensundaynight.com/2011/10/09/the-second-london-game-why-two-is-not-always-better-than-one/. We are privileged to be indulged with one day a year. It’s a wonderful thing, and we appreciate it. But let’s stick to that, eh?

    At the very least, it might calm down the ‘hur hur British ppl dnt undastand football’ crew on here.

  8. I find it ridiculous we are talking about a team moving to London, but I 100% agree with the sentiment that the teams that cannot pull their weight should be moved.

  9. I don’t see the Bucs going anywhere. But for how cheap the glazers are, I would assume they would have bolted to LA the second the talks were brought up.

    They could make tons of money in merchandise if they brought back the Dreamsicle jerseys!

  10. London Patriots
    London Vikings
    London Texans

    I conclude that it can’t be any of these 3 due to historical and/or geographical anomalies.

  11. Bad idea, right up there with, 18 game season, 40 yard line kick off, and that ridiculous new overtime rule.

  12. NFL needs to FIRST get on TV over there. i was in London recently for two weeks at two different hotels and there were no NFL games to be found on the tv. Not even news of nfl scores. the Brits don’t give two turds about American football.

  13. Expansion of 2 teams UK and LA. But to all of the fans out there that are rooting for a team but not going to the games, supporting your team don’t bitch if they get moved. Remember at the end of the day football, while a game and entertainment to us, is a business and owners want ROI. If moving to LA sells out 70K + stadiums it is not a bad idea.

  14. As an english american football player and fan I feel I can say without doubt that moving a team to the UK would be a massive fail.

    Why do people get into the NFL over here? Because they like a team and eventually become big fans in many cases, I’m a big eagles fan and sometimes attend games in america. I wouldn’t want to just ‘switch’ teams, that’s not what sport is about.

    So far we’ve had the Bucs come over and play very poorly against the patriots, who are easily the most supported team in the UK. As for poor ticket sales; the reason is because its the bucs. No flash/star players, poor performance last time and generally no interest in that team at all. The fact Glazer owns them is even more of a turn off, as most people over here hate Manchester United too, so why would we want to give money to them?

    Think it through NFL, we love the sport as it is.

  15. How about the Raiders? Raiders Fans meet Soccer Houligans. Soccer Houligans meet Raiders Fans. Try not to burn the city down.

  16. Why?

    And how will they handle playing the American teams? It makes more sense to have a team in Mexico or Canada since at least it is easier to travel back and forth from there.

  17. The one good thing would be that the British supporters shout something else besides ‘defense’ and ‘let’s go insert-team-name’ when cheering for their team.

  18. These “Clown” owners are trying to kill the Golden Goose “NFL” again. First the lockout and now this crap. NFL fans don’t want games in England. Quit trying to shove the NFL down Europes throat.

  19. The last time I checked this is what is call the NFL, not the damn WFL. If they want footbal then they can start their own league. Keep our teams and the money generated from our teams here in the U.S., and out of Goodell’s pockets just because he want’s to be a P.R. JACKA$$. We have enough people unemployed here in the U.S. that would be glad to have at least a weekend job, so they can eat………..

  20. Another note as the guy above was saying about different chants. It’s hard for us to create an atmosphere like games in the US. We are used to soccer atmospheres, where crowds are segregated and much more intense chants then happen. That will never change, in my opinion.

  21. So the season ticket holders of one team would get screwed out of a game every year. That’s nice. Go ahead NFL move team over to London and then look like fools when the fan base abandons that team after it has it’s first two year run of bad results and you have to move them back. One game a year is like a Super Bowl for the fans over there. That’s why it sells out and looks really, really popular. And unless you can give them a franchise they really want they won’t get attached to it anyhow. And there’s no way in hell the really popular franchises like the Giants, Steelers, Cowboys, Eagles, Pats, Packers, Skins or Bears are going anywhere. So ask yourselves this do you really think you could sell the London fans on the Buccaneers, Seahawks, Cards, Jags or Bills. I doubt it.

  22. A UK expansion team has to be called the London Broil. While we’re at it stick a team in the Philippines and call them the Manilla Envelopes.

  23. Give London the Dolphins. Miami is an awful football town. They can be the London Redcoats and play the Pats twice a year.

  24. The NFL needs to get the shiny global multinational corporate model out of it’s thinking entirely. That’s what’s behind the push to rip a team off from its fan base and move it to LA, put one in London, etc. American pro football belongs in and is beloved by folks who live in towns like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Green Bay, Detroit, Philly and Baltimore, St. Louis, Foxboro. It’s a blue collar game, Commissioner, and you’re wrecking it. It’s time for you to move on to some bigger, glitzier boardroom.

  25. legacybroken says: Not happening, the Buccaneers are locked into a contract with Hillsborough County that keeps the Bucs in Raymond James for at least another 15 years. I doubt the cheap Glazer boys dont want to pay the tab if they reneged on that agreement.

    There is no such thing as an “unbreakable” contract. If the potential earnings (or, more likely, increased value) of a London-based franchise exceed the cost of the penalty for breaking the existing lease agreement, then the Glazers would likely consider it. I suspect the same would be true of most NFL owners. If the League believes that placing a franchise in the UK is in its long-term interests, it might even assist an owner in breaking a lease via low-interest loans to cover the costs.

    ajknox88 says: . . . I don’t think the fans of any team would appreciate a team moving out of the country. Maybe the UK will add an expansion team?

    The League is all about numbers. A quick Googling shows that the population of the “greater Tampa Bay area” is about 4½ million people. London comes in at nearly 8 million. That’s a pretty compelling difference in then number of potential fans. It’s not unreasonable to think that the League would be willing to trade a (relatively) small number of American fans for a (potentially) large number of British ones

    The chances of expansion are essentially nonexistent. If there was a realistic possibility of the NFL adding teams, there wouldn’t be so many nervous people in Buffalo, San Diego, Minnesota, etc. The current structure of the League — two conferences, four divisions of four teams each — is ideal with regard to scheduling and competitive balance. And while collecting an “expansion fee” might be appealing to some owners in the short term, in the long-term, adding an additional team means that every franchise gets a smaller share of the existing revenue.

  26. The “London Jaguars” make the most sense, considering the automakers connection to the UK.

    I can’t think of players who would want to move to the UK for a year and make all of those trans-Atlantic flights.

    Logistically, it just does not make much sense.

  27. wtfchiefs says:
    Oct 11, 2011 5:17 PM
    London Patriots
    London Vikings
    London Texans

    I conclude that it can’t be any of these 3 due to historical and/or geographical anomalies.

    =======================

    As if Minnesota Vikings isn’t already a geographical anomaly?

  28. England Eagles? British Buccaneers? Birmingham Bears? London Lions? Canterbury Chiefs? North Hampton Niners? Dover Dolphins? Reading Raiders?

  29. To think that Brits will choose football over American football to spend their money is arrogant and ludicrous.

    Germany actually likes American football, but they can’t communicate with them/easily them sell things. It’s so cynical.

  30. Well, you can count that team out of every appearing on SNF or MNF (games to start at the usual 8-830 ET would be kicking off at 1-130AM local time).

    You’d have to work schedules to where the London franchise would have to play 3-4 home/road games in a row simply due to travel concerns, and guarantee a bye week prior to or after the team travels to the UK.

    Nah, seems simple enough. It’s not like Goodie has done anything wrong in his tenure.

  31. Bad idea..Have you ever seen Europeans riot after soccer matches?? It makes the fights at NFL stadiums look like bickering kids

  32. I love NFL but there’s no way that a London franchise is a good idea

    It’ll set the game back 20 years if one happens.

    I guarantee it’ll be a failure. Firstly, where will this team play? Secondly, who the hell will watch them? Everybody over here already has a team they follow, why would I go to Wembley and watch the London Legion (or whatever they’re called) when I can watch my Baltimore Ravens online?

    Pretty much everyone in this country is gonna be descended from the Vikings for what it’s worth wtfchiefs

  33. International Football League?

    So the west coast teams would have to not only travel and play games at 10 am their native time, they would have to travel all the way to london?

    Didn’t we have an uprising and stuff so that we didn’t have to pander to london?

    Don’t we have a border patrol so we don’t have to pander to mexico?

    Don’t we have common sense and free will so we don’t have to pander to canada?

    Keep it in the states. And this means the already BS games every year we are already playing over there.

  34. Move Buffalo to Toronto.

    Move San Diego to Mexico City.

    Move Jacksonville to London.

    Move Raiders to L.A.

    just solved the NFL’s international crisis.

  35. IF the NFL’s serious about making $ internationally have the Jaguars as Mexicso’s “home team.” Play a couple games there every year- Mexican-Americans will support the Jags (if its even close to the Mexican national soccer team that would be huge) and Mexico’s shown it can pack a stadium. The Jaguar is indigenous to Mexico. Boom. Thank me later

  36. Expansion is the better option; a team to Toronto; a team to Monterrey, Mexico, a team to London and a team to Mexico City.

    NFL meet the International Division

  37. Why are people so bitter about this? I am a die hard Ravens fan, and I wouldn’t mind at all if we played a game in London. (I’d actually want to make the trip.)

    Although I would NOT accept my Ravens moving there, not that they would, fans in Europe SHOULD be able to enjoy the game as often as we do. JAX? SD? MIN? Take your pick.

  38. @NoHomeTeam
    “The chances of expansion are essentially nonexistent. If there was a realistic possibility of the NFL adding teams, there wouldn’t be so many nervous people in Buffalo, San Diego, Minnesota, etc. The current structure of the League — two conferences, four divisions of four teams each — is ideal with regard to scheduling and competitive balance. And while collecting an “expansion fee” might be appealing to some owners in the short term, in the long-term, adding an additional team means that every franchise gets a smaller share of the existing revenue.”

    While I’ll agree that they wouldn’t add one team it would be something where they would add more than one team if the NFL chose to expand and thus restructering the current Divisions to more like what they were in the 90’s.

    But I’ll disagree, adding more successful frnachises would actually increase the share for all teams with adding another couple of franchises as long as they’re successful.

  39. The league thinks they can just drop a team into London and the people there will just automatically fall in love with it. The Commissioner and the ownership are just hell bent on destroying the league. Just because you can make money doing something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should make money doing that. Bernie Sanders was right. It’s never enough for these greedy corporations. North American dominance in the home is not enough. They have to strive for world dominance. Nothing lasts forever, and it’ll be amusing watching the league’s downfall and the ruining of the men who got in over their heads and then killed the Golden Goose, hang themselves in the process.

  40. This is a perfect example of how unbelievably GREEDY the owners are. Football is already the most popular sport in the US but they want more money. “Time to start getting more people overseas spending money on NFL tickets/jerseys/etc”. This is about increasing the market of the NFL for the sole purpose of more PROFIT. It makes me sick. I hope this London experiment is a colossal failure.

  41. If this is such a compelling objective Goodell should just buy a team, resign, and move with them to London. Sink or swim, but not with OPM.

  42. They should make it also the Bills. They can turn the Bills into the NFL’s answer to the Harlem globetrotters. Have them play one in Mexico too.

  43. OMG… are we going to outsource EVERYTHING just for a quick buck? How much $ does that take away from a team in America. Not counting people who travel, spend @ in hotels, and not to mention the ppl who work at the stadiums. They need to fire that pansy.

  44. I’ll bet Randy Lerner would love to move the Browns to London. Then he’d have his football team and his football team in the same country. Randy, just ask Art Modell about the consequences to moving the Browns before you do it. He’ll tell you you’ll have to learn to be hated by Cleveland for the rest of your life, and also be ready to win a Super Bowl within a few seasons.

  45. A london team would be eternally jetlagged and would lose consistently, sucking is not going to create a fanbase over there. If you are bent on expanding, look up on a map, there’s this canada place with some cities, go kill the cfl.

    Leave england with that crap they call soccer.

  46. jrs1972 says:
    Oct 11, 2011 8:47 PM
    A london team would be eternally jetlagged and would lose consistently, sucking is not going to create a fanbase over there.

    ———————————–
    Might as well move the Eagles then.

    At least they’ll have a valid excuse for the empty trophy case, and it will give the Philly fan base something else to complain about.

    🙂

  47. London Jets. They ll always be the redheaded step child in New York/Jersey. They match up well with the UK, all talk with nothing to back it up on the field.

  48. The day that Europe gets a NFL team , well be the last day I’ll have anything to do with the NFL ever!!! I been a fan for 42 years, I bet on games, I play fansty football, I wear NFL gear, it will be burnt up and forgotten about! And I will do my damnest to get everyone to do the same!!! I’m tied of seeing Americans lose job overseas. Be proud to be a American and if your not you have the freedom leave.

  49. if london ever gets an nfl team – and that should be a big IF – they can be damn happy with whoever they get, big tease or not. because taking this show across the atlantic for one game a year is stupid. taking it for 8 games a year is downright certifiable.

  50. The day that Europe gets a NFL team , well be the last day I’ll have anything to do with the NFL ever!!! I been a fan for 42 years, I bet on games, I play fansty football, I wear NFL gear, it will be burnt up and forgotten about! And I will do my damnest to get everyone to do the same!!! I’m tied of seeing Americans lose job overseas. Be proud to be a American and if your not you have the freedom leave. You greedy bastard are destroying the league.

  51. Will someone please explain to me how scheduling will work with a 5 hour time difference to the East Coast and 8 to the west??

    Totally unrealistic!

    Best plan to make the global NFL work would be to first establish an NFL Europe and then have a Super Duper World Bowl! Oh wait, they tried that.

    Though there are NFL fans in the UK (they could meet in a phone booth), culturally, their games are rugby and football (soccer).

    This is a total pipe dream.

  52. my fathers side of the family lives in a small town about 10 km from the german border. my cousins sent a couple footballs to the kids over there a couple years back. to my delight my aunt said via the internet that they keep repairing them so they can use real nfl issue footballs in their sandlot games. sounds like the german/ polish area is a hot bed of interest. maybe the brits dig it too but id put my eye on that part of the continent.

  53. Where would a London team play?

    Wembley is not an option for 8 home games. Not available.

    No other empty stadium there.

    Or is Roger planning on building one there?

  54. I wonder if they have the guts to take away a home game from Packers ticket holders by sending them to London. Most current ticket holders only get 6 home game tickets (2 are given to Milwaukee ticket holders). I think there will be a bunch of Cheeseheads outside of Mr. Goodell’s office ready to let him have it.

  55. Check out the mind blowing made up stats by the NFL PR & marketing dept. They est. 11 million fans in the UK. 120,000 watched live coverage of this years NFC Championship (most in 10 years).

    I live in the UK, this is overblown by at least 10 times.

    Were the owners fed these made up stats before voting?

    Amazing how far one man’s ego and obsession with his legacy will take him.

  56. In theory, this is a great idea, it makes the NFL International, which is what they’re hell bent on.

    At the end of the day though, it won’t fly due to logistics.

    It’s just too damn far away.

  57. ‘NFL needs to FIRST get on TV over there. i was in London recently for two weeks at two different hotels and there were no NFL games to be found on the tv. Not even news of nfl scores. the Brits don’t give two turds about American football.’

    Utter rubbish.

    The terrestrial channel Channel 5 shows the SNF game every week, the BBC shows the playoffs and the Superbowl, and most of the UK has Sky satellite TV, which shows two games every Sunday and the Thursday games on Fox, as well as every playoff game and the SB.

    Many who have satellite also subscribe to ESPN UK, which shows the MNF game. As well as college football.

    Eurosport (another satellite channel) shows college football, as well as European based gridiron. BBC radio also covers live American football weekly.

    As for the scores of NFL games, Sky and the BBC both cover NFL games in their sports shows, and the NFL scores are available in every major newspaper and sports magazine.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.