League commences process of putting the squeeze on Wembley

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Want conclusive proof that the NFL has put down roots in London?  The league has begun the process of squeezing financially the only place that has hosted NFL regular-season games there.

The NFL’s contract with Wembley Stadium runs through 2016.  According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the league has begun talking to other venues.  Which of course puts pressure on Wembley to do a deal that the NFL likes, or risk losing the privilege of hosting the games.

Per Kaplan, one option consists of building a brand new stadium, in partnership with one of the teams that plays in the English Premier League.

The league has expanded in recent years from one annual London game to two and, starting this year, three.  Despite ongoing talk of a team moving to London, the far better option would seem to be eventually playing eight games per year in England, giving the locals a full slate of games for the year, with different teams in each of the games and some of the teams (like the Jaguars) coming back every year.

Permanently placing a team in London would require the NFL to give the London team a separate set of rules regarding free agency and the salary cap.  The schedule also would be screwy, with multi-week home stands and multi-week road trips to limit the travel demands on the London team.

The creation of a separate reality for the London-based team, which would at a minimum enjoy a higher salary cap, would invite criticism from fans of the American teams, if/when the London team becomes a contender.  But if the London team doesn’t become a contender, the overall experiment would suffer and potentially fail.

That’s why the league will continue to talk about moving a team to London but never actually do it.  Meanwhile, as the carrot of getting a team continues to drive short-term interest, the league will keep increasing the annual slate of games until enough are played there that the league can claim it is simulating the relocation of a team by giving England the ultimate American answer to strawberries and cream — a shrink-wrapped collection of eight small cereal boxes.

73 responses to “League commences process of putting the squeeze on Wembley

  1. Having a full slate of 8 games with revolving teams is an interesting idea.

    There could be a potential issue with sustaining attendance if loyalty couldn’t be built to a “home” team. Another with the “fairness” of requiring some teams to give up home games and not others. But the logistics seem easier to work thru than having a full time franchise there.

  2. Gosh I’d love to be in charge of that London team with the lax rules, sounds like an easy Super Bowl victory in short time. London is crazy if they don’t jump on this and take over American football with one single really well run franchise from the beginning. That would be awesome for them to be the first country to take advantage of the benefits of building up a new sports industry, and to get off to a hot start and trying to make the case that their team is already the best of all of the teams in this prestigious league. And then soon they can have an extra sport for all of their schools gaining a head start over other nations that eventually follow suit.

    England should be chomping at the tea and crumpets to build a dynasty from scratch.

  3. Over the last 40 years, the NFL has thrown billions of dollars away in Europe. Ain’t gonna happen is this lifetime.

    Especially, since football in most of their languages means soccer, and almost every nation in the World plays in the World Cup every 4 years.

    Best short term strategy is to merge with CFL.

  4. The NFL runs the risk of maybe having some Philly fans going over to England to see their team play which could set our allied relationship back hundreds of years…better off putting a team in China

  5. screw London

    if international is goal, go Mexico City (same time zones, travel easy, bigger audience)

    though they stink at it, English still think soccer is a legit sport

  6. The income tax rates in the UK will require a far higher salary cap. Also, the players union will have concerns about players from other teams being hit for higher taxes for that one game per year they are on the road to London. These are thorny and expensive issues. Are there any top level UK athletes who still live there? All the F1 drivers live in Monaco now for tax purposes.

  7. Why doesn’t the NFL try this move with the city of Los Angeles?

    They’ve been trying for two decades now to get a team back in our nation’s second largest city. Why not start by getting the Chargers, Cardinals, Raiders or 49ers to start playing a home game there in the regular season?

    The continued obsession with London is silly, and it needs to stop.

  8. As long as we’re at it we might as well create a whole Euro Conference and then add an Asia-Pacific Conference. WHO’S UP FOR THE SUPER-DUPER BOWL!!!

  9. The NFL lost a lot of money to Europe with NFL Europe so let’s be real here. This is just their way of getting all that money back. Owners feel like Europe got the full advantage previously because of the revenue local places generated but the NFL never saw it. I’m with Florio on this one. It will never happen but they will keep milking London to not only get back what they lost but some additional revenue so in the end they can say they made money off Europe.

  10. With England’s elimination in the first round of World Cup play, I’m sure UK sports fans are more focused on improving the caliber of play among their footballers, not some imported game they do not fully understand.

    An NFL team in London is a pipe dream.

  11. Putting pressure on cities to pony up welfare for billionaires is what the NFL does. No surprise here. Don’t be surprised when London and Wembley tells the NFL to shove it. You want to come to England and build your own palace with your own money, then you’re welcome with open arms. If you want us to help pay for it, then forget it.

  12. The rest of the world doesnt care about “American football”.

    hence about 1 billion people watching the World Cup Final vs about 100 million watching the Superbowl(the overwelming vast majority American)

  13. The greedy Goodell and NFL are in for an extremely rude awakening if they think London and the taxpayers there will roll over and yield to the NFL’s threats/ demands that a new stadium be built.

    “politicallyincorrect says:
    Jul 14, 2014 10:49 AM
    screw London
    though they stink at it, English still think soccer is a legit sport”

    I don’t get this sort of ignorant comments by obtuse people. Most of the world thinks soccer is a legit sport.

  14. The only way I can see a London team working out is if we add a whole division in Europe. It would mean longer road trips for American teams but at least they would get 4 games out of it. With the 4 teams at least their would always be home games in Europe.

  15. How about we leave a US National team here (I like the idea of the Redskins staying along with the name) and all other teams have to pick a country to move to… the World Cup FOOTball League!

    Jags to London and Bills to Montreal are the first too moves!

  16. People over here already have teams. Talking about generations the older generation mostly support 49ers as that’s when it started being shown over here. So bring an NFL team to London will cause problems for fans in US and no one will support them over here. Be just 90k fans of the NFL not just one team. Really see no point in having a set team, but we appreciate a team using one of their home games to come play.

  17. Great Britain did not support NFL Europe.

    In the end NFL Europe had 5 teams in Germany and one in Amsterdam. Their furthest travel was East to Berlin. The largest market for the NFL are the cities along the Rhine River.

    There are international markets closer. Mexico City is less travel for teams than West to East Coast of the US.

    But the real issue is watering down the quality of the NFL. There aren’t 32 NFL quality QB’s now.

    It would improve the quality of games, and franchises would get a larger share of the pie, if there were 4 fewer teams in the NFL.

  18. As a Londoner who has been a huge football fan since the early 1980’s, I would obviously love a team to be based in London.

    However, whilst I think it would be successful, it would have to be a new team – simply uprooting an existing club (say Jacksonville) and moving them to london would not be a good idea.

    So, in this case, to keep the conferences balanced, at least 2 new teams would be required – maybe an AFC team in LA and and NFC team in London.

    Travel would not be the major issue. Teams fly in comfort on private charters and whilst a commercial flight from London to NY is 7 hours plus 2-3 hours waiting at the airport, and for LA is 9 hours + waiting time! flying privately would not be nearly so stressful.

    The biggest issue would be things like work permits, tax, different labor (labour) laws etc. Teams are known for bringing in a player for a workout on a Thursday, playing them in a game on Sunday and cutting them Monday. That’s fine in the states but would not work if the player needs a work permit just to come to London (taking a few days to acquire).

    The NFL would have to come to some serious agreements with the British government because, short of giving players diplomatic immunity, the immigration laws, tax laws etc.. will all apply.

    In practice, a ‘London’ team would almost certainly have to have their training base in Florida, and then fly in for games (and PR etc). This would pretty much negate any advantages the club would have over other teams.

    Also, to validate having a UK team, we should have high-school and college programmes over here so there would be a chance of developing British players. Whilst no NFL team will ever have more than a couple of truly British players, if there could be one or 2 high profile players – ideally in skill positions, it would be huge, but this will not happen until the game is played in high school over here.

    Finally, we need someone truly rich to invest $3-4 billion to make it happen – there are people with money, but I am not sure they would be inclined to invest that sort money in such a long shot to succeed.

    I really hope we end up with a London team. Realistically, however, I am not convinced it will ever happen! not because it would not be popular, but because the logistics are too horrendous to overcome.

  19. Why stop expanding the league at the international level? They should also put teams on other planets.

    Why stop watering down the game with illegalizing helmet-to-helmet hits? Let’s just take defenses off the field completely.

    Why stop expanding the playoffs at 14 teams? They should just let all 32 teams in (I’m sure it will soon be 64 due to the aforementioned international and extraterrestrial teams) and make each round a best of 7 series. That way, we would literally have year-round NFL.

    Why stop expanding the regular season at 18 games? Let’s just make it 162 like the MLB so we have football all day every day due to the 64-team league and best of 7 series playoffs with every team.

    Don’t forget we also have to eliminate the extra point and the kickoff. Instead of kickoffs, they should just let teams start at the opponent’s 20 yard line to ensure that they at least get a field goal.

    Seriously, Roger. Enough is enough.

  20. Why not just build NFLE; a league only in England/UK. Then it may have a chance to take root; unlike the failed experiment of NFL Europe and not have the US team traverse across the pond. There would also be no special treatment for a London based team.

  21. English still think soccer is a legit sport.
    Typical dumb American

  22. politicallyincorrect says:
    Jul 14, 2014 10:49 AM
    screw London

    if international is goal, go Mexico City (same time zones, travel easy, bigger audience)

    though they stink at it, English still think soccer is a legit sport

    Whereas in Mexico!!??

  23. Curious you show a 1 Euro coin when they still use the Pound Sterling in England.

    I don’t see any feasable way to put a team in London because of the travel and time difference. Some have proposed a London Super Bowl, but that will never happen since the game would have to start at 11 p.m. local, 1 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. in London) or be tape delayed.

  24. Can we please give the “Give a team to LA” crap! The NFL has been trying to keep a team there forever. Enough already!! Apparently, nobody in LA want a team. Attendance ALWAYS sucked for NFL games and tax payers continue to refuse to held captive by the NFL by paying for a new stadium. ENOUGH! I don’t care if LA is the 2nd biggest market, they don’t want it…MOVE ON!

    P.S. Yeah, don’t but a team in London either.

  25. Why does this picture have a euro coin in it? Wouldn’t it be more correct to have a pound coin in that picture?

  26. trollingforjustice says:
    Jul 14, 2014 10:42 AM

    “The NFL runs the risk of maybe having some Philly fans going over to England to see their team play which could set our allied relationship back hundreds of years…better off putting a team in China”
    So whatchya got against us Eagles fans – gee we threw snowballs at Santa? How about the turf at the old Vet? In other words – lets see some logic behind your statement about us E!A!G!L!E!S! fans ruining Democracy…. what a fool!!!!!!

  27. There was a pro football team in London. It was called the Monarchs, they won an NFL Europe title early on, and the league offices were in London. Everything was in place for them to become very popular. Yet, they ended up shutting down years before the rest of NFL Europe. In fact, they were so unpopular towards the end the took “London” out of the name and tried going with “England” for the last season and traveled the country playing in different cities. And the level of support needed for the Monarchs to succeed was a tiny fraction of what would be needed for a full NFL team to make it there.

  28. Would the players not in turn have to have some residant alien status in order to live there? Good luck with forcing european residancy on an american.

  29. citizenstrange says:
    Jul 14, 2014 11:05 AM
    I’m not so sure that the United Kingdom is as eager to give tax exempt status to billionaires.


    You’re not wrong. We love to tax the rich folks

  30. How are they going to play any football games at Wembley this year? Margot Al-Harazi sent a drone over the field just a couple weeks ago? #24 #LAD

  31. So the NFL is willing to pay to build a stadium in Europe, but, continues to extort American cities and their fans, who have paid the freight for decades.

    Why doesn’t God-L use American $$ to build stadia in American cities, boosting the economies therein, and creating more income, to then be spent on his “product”?

    No one wants football in Europe including Europeans. If God-L is going to waste $$$, waste it in the USA on Americans!

  32. I keep saying, 17 game season:
    8 home
    8 road
    1 neutral site.

    That gives sixteen neutral games per season for the NFL to divvy up between LA (8 games) and the rest of the world (the other 8 – London, Mex City, Japan, Toronto, etc.).

    Bonus: nobody finishes with a .500 record.

  33. The only way it’ll work is to have a full 4 team division over there to minimize travel. Six divisional games leaves 10 non-divisional, and they’ll be home team for half, so only crossing the pond 5 times per season.

    Still have to consider time zones. Really not fair for a west coast team to play in London (or vice versa) in the middle of the season. Maybe schedule it before the bye for the visiting team.

  34. Something tells me this move would knock Miami to the AFC South. Logistically the London team would probably be in the AFC East – Boston, New York, New York.

  35. “The NFL runs the risk of maybe having some Philly fans going over to England to see their team play which could set our allied relationship back hundreds of years…better off putting a team in China”
    So whatchya got against us Eagles fans – gee we threw snowballs at Santa? How about the turf at the old Vet? In other words – lets see some logic behind your statement about us E!A!G!L!E!S! fans ruining Democracy…. what a fool!!!!!!

    Sorry.. Philly fans would get cleaned out there.

  36. nosleeptilsb says:Jul 14, 2014 12:08 PM

    Would the players not in turn have to have some residant alien status in order to live there? Good luck with forcing european residancy on an american.


    They give work visas, unless the person wanted to become a resident.

    The bigger issue is getting work visas for players with criminal records.

  37. Re: coin

    I think it is just amazing they could find a pic with a vice holding a coin, any coin. Surely, they didn’t go buy a vice and borrow a coin. Do you think?

  38. First, don’t show a Euro coin when we are talking about British Sterling or the “pound”. The reason being is simple, it is the most valuable currency in the world vs the US Peso:

    £1 = $1.70

    Every million they generate equals $1.7 million!! Nice return. They charge the same ridiculous prices here as they do the in US. Average tix go for £80-£100 for crappy seats. So they are getting $136 for nosebleeds about $50 more than at your average NFL venues for the crappy upper level seats.

    Plus the NFL and all teams that play here will open International bank accounts and pay zero taxes on all revenue from games, concessions anything they earn until they repatriate it to the US.

    And don’t be surprised to see the NFL try to declare an International HQ in London or Luxumbourg, Ireland or any other tax friendly country just like Google, Amazon and other large multinational corporations just so they can avoid paying US Corporate Tax of 35%!

    The average fan doesn’t get it. This is the stuff that drives business. As long as the Brits continue lining up and dropping £££ these games will continue. Personally as a displaced NFL fan in London I love it. Sorry US fans get over it. It’s here to stay.

  39. and for the Euros responding..

    sorry guys, soccer is not a sport, at least not here…. no decent athlete even plays… soccer is merely a gym class physical activity that does not involve failure so the sensitive kids can run around

    the WC was atrocious… bad athletes biting and flopping…. very low skill level, even by the supposed stars (can’t even kick straight)

    as someone said… let’s leave futbol to the Euros and SAmericans and the real sport for us evolved Americans

  40. contraction would be better for NFL than expansion

    if anything, maybe reshuffle a few teams
    exp. SB to Orange County to try and widen to include LA w/o wasting another team

    if anyone moves, move Jax and TB, with one going to Orlando, again to try and combine markets, and the other can go elsewhere

    if a team frees up… I would consider Mex City or maybe LA (though I think LA is a crap market and I would be leery of adding a team there)

  41. The NFL London games largely attract the very small native audience that follows the NFL, American tourists and military, American fans of the teams involved, and curiosity seekers interested in an “event.” The best way to gauge local interest is by looking at the amount of space given to American football in the sports pages of English newspapers. Typically, there is NO coverage whatsoever, with only a small smattering, buried deep inside the sports sections, when games are played on London. British TV sports coverage similarly ignores American football. For all the hysteria in US media about the NFL draft, there wasn’t a single syllable of coverage in the London press. There is virtually no groundswell of enthusiasm for American football in England beyond a very small cult following. The NFL’s interest here is strictly about global marketing and branding, not catering to mythical pent-up local demand. The NFL will probably continue to have some success with one-off games, but that’s about it.

  42. A London NFL team is unworkable. A London Golden Calf is apparently milkable, though.

  43. One more observation: English Premier League soccer receives far more coverage on US media than the NFL receives in British media.

  44. LEAVE THE GAME HERE IN THE UNITED STATES!!! There have been 2 Europe leauges tried & failed!!! They don’t want American football there!!!

  45. Why would we put one outside of the USA when we still don’t have one in the beautiful city of San Diego. San Diego is a great city and is in need of a successful NFL team.

  46. Just send jacksonville have you looked at that stadium on gameday? Even the name will fit in england shaguars yea baby yea!

  47. This all makes fascinating reading.

    Let’s dispel a few myths!

    Firstly football (or soccer as it is called in the US) is MUCH more popular than ‘American’ Football worldwide. There are hundreds of millionaire soccer players living in the UK that cope with the UK tax laws.

    Some of the comments refer to getting rid of kick offs and extra points. – at what point will the game no longer be called FOOT ball? Presumably once punting is also eliminated (which the way the defensive rules are going, shouldn’t be too long)

    The London Monarchs were unsuccessful because, believe it or not, we know enough about ‘football’ in London to recognise the difference between the NFL and a minor league team. (For the same reason, we grew tired of watching scrimmages – aka. Preseason games).

    For those Americans that have been to london (will be less than 25% of you as the rest do not have passports), we are a pretty international country, we don’t spend all our time drinking tea and eating scones and we do know how to use the internet – hence we are able to follow the NFL as effectively as anyone living anywhere else in the world.

    An NFL team in London would be highly successful in terms of fan base! coverage! profile and revenue.

    However, it would face so many logistical problems as to make it unlikely to happen. If the NFL could put a new team in, say, Alabama, where college teams do pretty well, but with a fraction of the logistic issues, I am not sure there would be a serious incentive to send one to London permanently, where it might fail. (If the Alabama team fails, move it to another of the 30 or so states that don’t currently have a team)

    Finally, for such a huge, and apparently international country, that seems keen to have a massive influence on the rest of the world, it is a paradox that the USA does not wish to export its best creations, rather than simply trying to share its army and foreign policy with everyone else.

  48. “Permanently placing a team in London would require the NFL to give the London team a separate set of rules regarding free agency and the salary cap.”


  49. I find it odd that US supporters of American Football would be so dismissive of the local fans of the sport here in Europe.

    Some of us have grown up and love it, ever since the Superbowl was first aired in the early 80’s. Now we get tons of games televised, so the demand is obviously there.

    As others have pointed out, German teams did very well in NFL Europe, and subesquently there are many, many fans there. In fact, I’m surprised the NFL don’t place a game there as well/instead.

    All that said, a local London team is a terrible idea. I do however like the idea of hosting regular games, with revolving teams – which will help boost the numbers of fans over this side of the pond.
    Just so long as most of them don’t feature the fookin Jaguars! 😉

    Oh, and for those who like to belittle soccer and/or get all overprotective about ‘your’ sport – keep on having a pop if you like, just shows how insular some of you are. Peace out. 🙂

  50. I think londonmondayclub’s (first) post was spot on and brilliant. I won’t quote it due to it’s length. Aside from the legal/visa/ labour info, one point made was regarding growing their own talent pool.

    IMO, this would be crucial to a “real” NFL franchise in London or other European countries. There needs to be enough interest in the game locally to start high school and college level programs there. Without that, the team(s) would be dependant on American players being willing to relocate and deal with an entirely different economy and set of labor (labour) laws, leaving the team in London and ideally 3 other teams in western Europe without hometown/home country players to generate real passion for.

    I think to be logistically successful, there would need to be a 4 team conference in Europe as mentioned in another post. Actually, just musing about it here, if they started teaching football in high school and college then they could create their own small league regardless of the NFL’s actions. Eventually they could play against American teams or have an International Bowl.

    Pipe dreams, I’m sure. The interest just isn’t there for the funding of lower level programs to develop talent. Although Germany…

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