Goodell doesn’t close the door on a London-based franchise

As the NFL expands its annual slate of London-based games from two to three, the obvious question lingers regarding the league’s long-term plans.

Will the NFL place a team in London on a full-time basis?

“That is not our objective,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Tuesday, at the quarterly ownership meetings.  “Our objective is to continue the growth of our game internationally.  What we are so pleased about is that our game continues to grow and fans want more, television broadcasters want more and sponsors want more.  We are responding to that interest in the game because fans want to see it.  This is just another step down that path.  We are making sure we can bring more football to more people.  The UK fans have been terrific.  Seeing over 500,000 people the day before the game at a rally is really extraordinary.  It is a signal that there is real interest in our game internationally.  If it ultimately gets to that point it is a different issue.  We have a lot of steps to go before we are at that position.”

So while it’s not a goal, it’s a possibility.

“[Y]ou could view it as a potential home city but a lot would have to happen before that could take place,” Goodell said.

That message conflicts with the stated wishes of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who said last year that it’s time for London to have its own franchise.

Regardless of whether it happens sooner or later, placing a team in London on a full-time basis would raise serious logistical issues.  From travel to taxes to the salary cap to exchange rates to the inability to play prime-time games to the hosting of playoff games to the usual midweek tire-kicking on available free agents to the resistance of players to play for an internationally-based franchise, a team in London would be at a distinct competitive disadvantage.  Efforts to offset that disadvantage would encounter obvious criticism from other teams that think the balance is being pushed too far in favor of the London franchise.

Still, it’s in the league’s best interests to dangle the carrot of a full-time team, and perhaps even a Super Bowl, in London because the mere possibility of such developments can help drive interest and build an overseas audience by sparking intrigue and fascination.

In our view, the most the NFL ever would do is have one team split its schedule between London and a U.S. city.  We thought that the Jaguars would be a candidate for such an arrangement.  However, as Peter King of reported last month on NBC’s Football Night in America, a two-game West Coast trip has caused the Jaguars to cool for now on playing more than one game per year in London.

Maybe no team would want to play four games, or even more than one game, per year in London.  Maybe, in the end, London eventually will get the equivalent of a variety pack of miniature cereal boxes, giving them a full slate of eight games involving half the league’s teams, each and every year.

69 responses to “Goodell doesn’t close the door on a London-based franchise

  1. Good analysis – and you didn’t even mention the issues the Draft would have under European law!

    I’m in the UK and go to most of the London games but no way I could afford to go to 8 games a year. I reckon 4 a year is about the sweet spot for the fan base over here.

  2. Just the worst idea of all-time. NFL greed knows no bounds. Can’t wait to see loads of injuries for West Coast teams traveling all the way to Europe to play a road game, and vice versa, unless Concordes are involved.

  3. A superbowl? I’ve spent thousands on the NFL, and my city deserves one long before some tea drinking chap in London.

  4. wouldn’t 8 games be 16 teams and therefore 50% of the league?

    The NFL is trying to increase its revenue in two different ways, equally bad for football. They want to add 2 games to the season or add a game to the postseason, and they want to expand into London. Best solution for this would be to add a 17th game for each team to play 16 games in London. Then every team has to travel there. Add in another bye week as well. The NFL would gain revenue from the extra 16 games as well as an additional bye week, and the NFL would be able to expand into London without making it significantly disadvantageous to one team.

  5. Gotta have a big wealthy city to threaten existing municipalities with once they move a franchise to Los Angeles. Otherwise how do you get governments to shell out hundreds of million dollars for stadiums?

  6. Having the novelty of an occasional game is one thing.

    Actually establishing a permanent team and the wear & tear that would cause on everyone involved goes against the safety rhetoric we’ve been hearing.

    Greed > Safety?

  7. NO ONE WANTS THIS! Why is this so hard for Rog to understand? No player wants this. No fan wants to lose their team to London or have them play there even if its an away game. Just stop. If you want to play pre-season games there fine. Pro Bowl…swell but stop putting games that matter there.

  8. Guy inherits the most successful league in the US by billions and cannot stop coming up with stupid ideas.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he was the mastermind behind New Coke and windows vista.

  9. The London games are popular over there because it is a fun spectacle to see the NFL. Make it a normal thing, especially with a team that is at a considerable competitive disadvantage, and the novelty will wear off quickly.

    The NFL thinks moving to London will be a great moneymaker, but if they expect the level of interest to remain the same for a regular team over there, they will be sorely disappointed.

  10. London cannot hold an NFL team.
    Los Angeles could not/cannot hold an NFL team.

    The NFL is perfect at 32 teams. No need for expansion.

  11. This is soooooo Stupid and amounts to nothing more then GREED by the NFL and Owners. I offer as proof Rodger Goodell said and I quote

    “television broadcasters want more and sponsors want more” UNQuote

    Translation more Money more Money more Money….Thier going to Ruin Football the same way the greed hounds controlling Nascar screwed it up by spreading it out of the region it began in as a result they now can’t give away enough tickets to fill up races for the Tv camera’s.

  12. Here is the worst possible outcome…

    London gets a franchise and then makes a bid to HOST THE SUPERBOWL!!

    Do NOT let this happen!!!!

  13. Roger and the owners won’t stop until they have scraped every last ounce from the colon of the golden egg laying NFL goose.

  14. Only way Goodell gets this as a bad idea is if one or more of next year’s games in London don’t sell out. As long as people pay the money & go, his mind will be focused on a franchise there.

  15. If the NFL actually does expand internationally, it’s going to have to drop all those expressions of American patriotism. Fans in other countries are not really going to want to watch “a game that beats red white and blue.” See how popular the CFL, which markets and presents itself as a distinctly Canadian league that requires a certain percentage of Canadians on every roster, is with US football fans.

    More problematic, though, is that American football simply does not have an international base of talent. Look at baseball, basketball, and hockey: players come from all over the world to compete in America’s big professional leagues, and often become well-known (ex. Ichiro Suzuki, Evgeni Malkin, Yao Ming, Yasiel Puig, Anze Kopitar, Pau Gasol). They play those sports all over the world and so you can find MLB/NBA/NHL-caliber talent all over the world. Now how many international players can you find for American football? The next Jim Brown might be playing soccer in a field in Europe right now, but without the semi-pro teams and youth leagues the United States has, how will you find him? The overwhelming majority of American football players, and especially the stars, are themselves American. Any team overseas would have to compete with almost entirely American talent, and good luck getting people overseas to feel invested in a team that has entirely American players, playing an entirely American sport.

    MLB, the NBA, and the NHL could plausibly expand overseas in the future, because people everywhere play those sports at a high level, so it wouldn’t entirely be a matter of Americans invading some other country’s sports scene. The same cannot be said of football. I get that the NFL is a business and businesses have to expand or die, but there are far more realistic and promising markets still in this country, let alone on this continent, to pursue before London.

  16. London Jaguars. It’s that simple and Easy.

    AFC East


    New England


    New York

    AFC South





    Make the move and the switch quite easy!

  17. Enough already. If an NFL team moves to London, it’ll be the worst thing to ever happen to football. It’s bad enough that they are adding another game there to make 3 in total for 2014. The travel & the lack of true fans doesn’t make this a feasible move. Football is an American sport & it should stay in America.

  18. When Jim Crane wanted to buy the Astros, the league wanted him to move them to the AL West.

    Stupid move really because of all the west coast games that would start at 9 or 10 central time where the team is in Houston so for the fans it would suck, not to mention losing the rivalries and history from being in the NL since inception.

    But hey, they dropped 60 mil from the price tag and deal done. Watch the money rain down for a team in merry old England……

  19. Let’s just stick to playing NFL Football in North America. No problem with London, it’s just a novelty that wear off soon. If they really want American football, start a league.

    I’d much rather some of the games that go to London to maybe go to a neutral city in the US and be played. It would be cool to be in Atlanta, and go see 2 other teams play 1 week a year or something.

  20. If London wants a team then make London suffer thru FOUR pre-season games, paying FULL ticket price, & watching the starters play for 10 minutes.
    Yea, let them do this for 5 years & sell out Wembley. If they sell out those 4 PRE-SEASON games each year for 5 years then put them in the rotation giving them 4 games a year, with no team having to play there more than once a year.

  21. The NFL is our pastime, it’s just a gimmick overseas. That’s why you play ur money grubbing game or two over there and keep the rest here.

  22. London had it’s chance with the London Monarchs(1991-1997-England Monarchs(1998) in the WLAF and NFL Europe

    Didn’t work well then so why should it work now.

    NFL Games played in London are a slap in the face for any NFL Europe Fan.

    After 2007 any NFL games played in Europe should have been hosted by Amsterdam or Frankfurt. Their teams were in the NFL Europe from the beginning to the end.

    And if any fans deserved to watch a NFL Game in their cities it would be the fans of these two cities.

    Just sayin’ (Frankfurt Galaxy Fan)

  23. Some of these issues can be resolved the same way the NHL, NBA, and to a lesser extent MLB and MLS deal with Canadian and American teams. Others would require legislation or NFL policy changes. The Draft requirements would be a serious issue with European Law. What I think would be interesting would be the impact on players affinity for weapons and societies aversion to some of the other foibles of the NFL athlete. I also get a sense that whilst the athlete might be able to make it over to the UK, many members of his posse might have visa issues!

  24. I figure a London franchise would have two sets of facilities. One in or near London, the other on the East coast. Probably NY/NJ area or Boston.

    The team would actually stay in the US most of the season then travel to London for weeks it had a home game. That way it could check on free agents, etc. If the league made it so that the London team played 2-home, 2-road, etc things would be much easier for it.

    The team would need to be kept out of Sunday Night and Monday night games unless the league wanted to air them at 1am overseas. But the regular slate of games is on from 6-midnight over there and they do pretty well.

    The biggest hurdle is what division to put the team in. If you moved Buffalo out of the AFC East London makes sense with NY, Boston and Miami.

    If Jacksonville moves to London I could see London in the East with Miami moved to the South. I hate to break Miami off from the rest of the East.

    What would make even less sense (but I can see it happening) is London takes Dallas’ place in the NFC East. Breaking up the NFC East or North seems like sacrilege.

  25. Roger shouldn’t close the door on CTE either. After 2nite on PBS, he’s no better than a lying scumbag tobacco exec. We saw it in print the past month, but Frontline on PBS shows the smoking gun. Forget London Roger, build an NFL hospital.

  26. Tons of great things of become even greater after thinking outside of the box and making drastic changes, but this is the NATIONAL football league. Every single piece of Dolphins apparel that I have ever owned has said National Football League.
    I’m not an old guy and I hate to sound like an old timer who refutes change, but don’t change this. Give me one player or coach who wants this, and I’ll attempt to almost give this notion another thought. An international Super Bowl would be cheating us, and an inter nation franchise would end up completely lost.
    Innovation is amazing, but sometimes innovation for innovations sake is awful.

  27. Move the Vikings to London if LA doesn’t work out. Everybody wins, Minnesota gets to watch the Packers who are actually more popular there than the Vikings & the NFL will get every game sold out.

  28. No more London games for west coast teams- especially teams that have already had to make the trip recently. Those teams already travel so much further than the rest of the league every season.

  29. There are plenty of East Coast teams to choose for these games. This is such a disadvantage for a west coast team, especially if it takes up one of their home games.

  30. A Super Bowl in London would be the stupidest thing the NFL could do. Are you going to have that at midnight or 1AM there to accommodate the majority of your fans in the US? That’s just silly.

    And if you have it at 8pm in London, I believe it would be 3 or 4pm on the East coast? That seems a little too early for the biggest game of the year for a majority of the fans…

  31. Like someone else said before they would have to be Concords involved if that is on the table then it really isn’t a big deal travel would be the same as it is now; as for prime time games they would likely have to be played on a Sunday night there or a Saturday night here (US). That would give London a night game and the visitor a regular day game, after all night games are really for the home crowd anyway.

    The only problem is while a Concorde makes travel very fast and very luxurious to say the least, who pays for that? Remember the planes were taken out of commerce because they were too expensive to operate. Would the NFL take that cost on or is that all on the owner of a London team?

  32. London does not need a team just like the US does not need an EPL soccer club.

    Playing 2-3 games a year is more than sufficient.

    I really wish if expanding the schedule is inevitable, the NFL would first consider going to an odd number of games such as 17 or (hopefully not) 19.

    This way everyone has a neutral site game and they can be spread all over internationally or in other fun college cities in the US.

    It’s ridiculous to have to give up a home game…much like Hard Knocks,…some teams will never go for that.

  33. You can table this idea until they invent teleporters. The travel schedule alone would be enough for a high pick to pull an elway or eli, pout like a girl, and not play for that team.

  34. Logistically…this would be impossible to pull off from a personnel standpoint. Where would the London training camp take place? I’m assuming London. How are you going to treats UDFAs trying to make a roster in which they suddenly get cut from the 53 man roster? Too bad so sad? Go buy a plane ticket back to the States? It’s a ridiculous idea. Leave the NFL alone.

  35. It’s so tiring to hear the same nonsense about Los Angeles not supporting their teams from every idiot in the country, and I’m not even from there! At the time the Rams/Raiders left Los Angeles, they didn’t do it solely on the fanbase, they did it because of their stadium situations. On any given Sunday, Los Angeles had 100,000+ attending pro football games.

    I think epmckenna was on the right track. The NFL will soon place a team in Los Angeles and they’re building up London as the next big thing, so that they’ll STILL have a relocation threat once L.A. gets filled.

  36. Regular season games at Wembley – fantastic. Seriously, next season I will be able to attend a Raiders regular season game for the first time in 27 years as a fan.

    It’s a ten hour round trip for me, plus London hotels are very expensive, but it will totally be worth it.

    London franchise? Stupid, stupid idea. Quite apart from the logistical problems mentioned above, has it not occurred to Mr Goodell that most of the British fans who attend the current Wembley games are fans of existing franchises? We’ll come for the odd one or two games a year, but we’re not going to stop supporting whatever team we currently follow just because there’s a new team that happens to be on the same continent.

  37. So here’s what you do.

    Remove one preseason game from the schedule, so each team plays three not four.

    Add one game to the regular season, but that extra game is played at a neutral venue. So each team plays eight home games, eight games that are home games for the other team and one game at a neutral venue.

    Those neutral venues are US cities with appropriate stadiums but no franchise and cities in other countries.

    This way, no team loses a home game, no team is put at an unfair disadvantage because of extra travelling requirements etc.

  38. London Monarchs were actually doing well with a following the rest of NFL Europe blew which is why they go to London and not Frankfurt.

    Mexico City was a waste. They are too busy immigrating illegally and working the drug and people trade. and frankly no one would go there for safety reasons.

  39. Wow so are we really going to keep this transparent PR/propaganda thing going Roger? The reason over 500,000 people ‘attended’ the rally is because the NFL put it in the busiest shopping location at the weekend in the country. I was there! To alot of shoppers it was an annoyance. It’s a bit like me hopping on one leg in Times Square and claiming all the people wondering through were there we to see me balance around.
    You know how many people tuned in on free-to-air television in the entire UK for the Vikings v Steelers game? 500,000. How odd, that doesn’t sound so nearly impressive. And when the game switched channels for the second half because Channel 4 didn’t want the NFL in primetime, less than half that audience followed.

    There’s some serious misinformation and misleading nonsense coming out of the NFL at the moment.

  40. Fans of the opposing nfl teams please give it up about Jacksonville Jaguars because we’re not going anywhere. I understand ya’ll hate this city because of tarps, bad superbowl experience, small market, and your belove L.A. doesn’t have a NFL team but give give it a rest. We didn’t have a blackout in 3 years and having the stadium renovated next year with the largest scoreboard and party deck. Please, for the love of God people let it go because the Jacksonville Jaguars the keyword Jacksonville are staying home.

  41. On a positive note it would add some legitimacy the “World Champions” claim we hear every year!!!!

  42. Kids, if you ever think you aren’t smart enough to run a multibillion dollar company, just look at Roger Goodell. You CAN do it!!

  43. If you want a franchise in London that is competitive, the first thing you are going to need a developmental league in Europe, since they don’t play college football over there. If you can’t make the developmental league work, then the idea needs to be ditched.

    The problem is convincing American football players who have played college ball in the major conferences to essentially move to Europe for at least half the year. That is a hard sell when these men have families in America. It just isn’t going to work. This is the biggest hurdle (on top of the others like traveling logistics), and right now, there just isn’t a good answer.

  44. Keep on holding on the that ‘the Jags are going to move to London’ crap until you actually believe it. You damn treasure trolls….

  45. You can increase interest in your product without basing a team overseas. Just ask The English Premier League.

  46. also, along with traveling way more than east teams, west coast teams have gotten the scheduling shaft of travelling to the east on short “thursday night” weeks. there is no way of justifying the 49rs going to London again.

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