NFL addresses logistical challenges of moving a team to London

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As the NFL gets ready to stage one of three 2014 regular-season games in London, the man in charge of the league’s efforts to grow the game in other countries addressed the challenges of moving a team to London permanently.

Mark Waller, the new executive V.P., international, appeared via phone from London on Thursday’s edition of PFT Live to address all aspects of the ongoing London experiment.

A debate (not quite spirited, but ultimately instructive) emerged on the logistical challenges of relocating a franchise to England.  My concern: To make a team competitive in England, the NFL will have to give that team a separate set of rules.  And those special rules could end up prompting fans of other teams to cry foul when the London team begins to thrive.

Waller eventually acknowledged that, if a move can’t practically be accomplished, the league could expand its presence to eight games per year involving different teams.

Waller also discussed the NFL’s new deal with Sky Sports, which televises the games in England — and which has agreed as part of a new five-year extension to promote the NFL as heavily as it promotes other premier sports properties.  Per Waller, roughly 400,000 viewers per week watch the featured game of the week on Sky Sports.  While not a huge number, the audience for a Premier League game usually hovers, per Waller, in the range of two million.

Beyond staging NFL games in other countries, Waller and the NFL realize that more must be done to increase participation in football beyond the borders of the U.S.A.  That’s part of what Waller will be doing as he embarks on the challenge of continuing to export the new American pastime.

The entire interview appears below.  If you’re wondering at all about the NFL’s long-term plans in London, it’s worth a listen.

100 responses to “NFL addresses logistical challenges of moving a team to London

  1. Not one NFL fan wants a team in London, let alone playing in London. Another Fidel Goodell “I’m smarter than everyone” example of malfeasance.

  2. Have they faced the logistical problems of un-bridled greed?

    Paging Mark Cuban, we need a new Comish.

  3. They play all preseason and first 4 games in USA on the road. they then play 8 straight games at home (traveling team always has their Bye the week following), they have their Bye week after the 8 straight home games, and then finish the season with 4 straight games on the road…..

    only logistics issue i see involves if they get a home playoff game.

  4. Players are not going to want to move to London and opponents will not want to travel there either. The team would have players leaving for free agency and won’t be able to sign anyone new. No one would show up for OTAs in the offseason. Players would hold out and demand trades and draft picks will refuse to sign with them just like John Elway and Eli Manning. This team would be a 4-12 or 3-13 team every season and there would be dwindling fan interest.

  5. Why have a London team. English would lose interest if they had a full time team and they were not competive. Having a taste whether it’s 3 games or a few more is the best way to grow interest abroad.

  6. They play all preseason and first 4 games in USA on the road. they then play 8 straight games at home (traveling team always has their Bye the week following), they have their Bye week after the 8 straight home games, and then finish the season with 4 straight games on the road…..

    only logistics issue i see involves if they get a home playoff game.

    works in theory, but what about the wonderful thursday night football?

  7. Unfortunately, as a Jaguar fan, I see us losing half our home games to London. Logistically, its impossible to have a team play an entire season in London due to travel and time zone differences; it makes more sense to home base a team in JAX for its away games. The team will open up in London for a four game stretch and then return to Jax for the remaining 12 games (four home, 8 away).

    I know Jag fans will respond with the usual reasons. All you have to do is talk to upper mgmt. and their eyes sparkle when talking about London and the $$$.

    Also, when you’re clicking the down thumb, remember our mayor and all Jag fan boys cheering on the “one” game in London a couple of years ago. You wanted it, even though the real fans of pro football in this town thought it was crazy.

    The British like hyphenated names. Jax London Jaguars sounds nice, but you know we will get second billing.

  8. London is an amazing place. I’ve been to a game at Wembley and there are plenty of NFL fans that really love the game. Lot’s of US expats too that grew up with it. It will take some time before they figure out not to wear a Steelers or Cowboys or Patriots jersey to the Oakland – Miami game, but they’ll figure it out eventually. Not sure I am a proponent of a permanent team there, but nothing wrong with trying to make it a global sport.

  9. The growth potential of soccer in America is much stronger than the growth potential of football is England.

    I predict a watering down and abandonment of football by a lot of fans when the product becomes weakened by internationalization.

    How is that NFL Europe doing?!?

  10. L.A. FIRST.

    If you can’t find a fan base in a metropolitan area of over 18 million, YOU SUCK at your job.

    Los Angeles is basically its own planet, if NY is the city that never sleeps, LA is the city that never ends. I mean it seemingly goes on endlessly in every direction and its packed, everywhere.

    But they focus on Los Angeles proper, move a team to Anaheim on The 57, you have access to the 5, The 91, the 55, the 22.

    ^Your Billion dollar solution, now what the heck are you guys talking about this London noise? If I were in that board room when those guys brought that up, I would suggest we ban alcohol and opening every meeting with Goodell sharing his latest London vacation photos.

  11. Any team outside the USA needs to have essentially 2 headqtrs. One based in USA east coast and obviously in Europe. Beyond that I would simply add a team in Mexico, Puerto Rico, north east Montreal, London, and Amsterdam and make that an nfc division. Then you make another division with Los Angeles, Vancouver, Nebraska,Hawaii, Oklahoma and make that an AFC division. Now you’ve gotten into untapped markets and can expand from there whether its through Canada, Latin America or Europe.

    Not a huge fan of change but this is one way where it makes sense.

  12. a buddy wanted to know if I would go to a game with him, tickets were $220. There are few things I’m willing to spend $220 were all I get is the “privilege” to watch….watching a single NFL game is not one of them. Now they want to move games to London creating an increase in tickets prices since there will be one less home game for certain teams…

  13. Please, seriously stop this nonsense already.

    Too much of a good thing is a reality.

    Chocolate, Booze, fast women.

    NFL on another Continent falls into the same category.

    I swear Goodell is going to ruin the NFL.

    Give it up already.

    Thursday Night Football is patently unfair to the Road Team. How will playing on another Continent be fair?

  14. Stage one: Steal underpants
    Stage two: …………………………
    Stage three: Profit!

  15. I figured out the logistics- Don’t put a team in London. The backlash from trying to move a team 2 hour car trip from Buffalo to Toronto is causing a big enough problem that it made Bon Jovi a villain.

    Don’t forget the NFL already has a hard time keeping fights out of the stands when London fans come to US to support their team with soccer mentality.

  16. Why?

    Why do you want to keep expanding? Is it greed? We have a great sport. Why can’t we keep it here?

    Is their Champion’s League going to let US Soccer teams do the same???

  17. “Beyond staging NFL games in other countries, Waller and the NFL realize that more must be done to increase participation in football beyond the borders of the U.S.A. ”

    One question: Why is it so important for us to increase participation in football beyond the borders of the USA???

    It isnt like the game of football is struggling in America, and because of this struggle we need to find fans in other places. I dont get the desire to have a team in London. I dont want a team in Canada, London, or Mexico.

  18. British NFL fans should just have to adjust their viewing schedules just like American EPL fans have to do.

    You don’t see EPL or La Liga looking to put a soccer team in the States.

    I have no problem with a couple games a year across the pond, but a team there would screw up the divisions. There’d be an AFC Way East.

    Its probably cool for players to get a paid trip to London followed by a week off. But every week that is a grind.

  19. Who remembers that game a few years back between the Cardinals and the 49ers in Mexico City? If I remember correctly, that stadium sold out and there were more than 100k fans at that game. If you want to expand the game, try doing something like that. Hispanics like football, Euros not so much.

  20. Soccer is going to overrun football in the future.

    It is easier to travel north and south (to and from Central and South America) than find 6’4″ 240 lb. guys from Columbia and Chile.

  21. The NFL cannot even take care of it’s business in their own backyard, let alone “across the pond”. Gimme a freakin’ break!! Like Mark Cuban and others have said.. “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.”.

  22. Goodbye, Bengals.

    1. Because you have finally fielded a competitive team and
    2. Because you still cannot fill the seats in your stadium

    And your team will be renamed the London Leopards, in keeping with your kitty cat theme.

    And they do speak English in England. Some of you Cincitucky folks had better brush up…

  23. If the NFL wants to have teams that aren’t based in the United States, they need to start new franchises rather than move existing ones.

    Then, there isn’t any “Logistical Challenge” of moving a team, rather, there’s just the challenge of having a team.

    Scheduling could probably be rectified by having, in this case, a London-based team, play two weeks in the States, then two weeks in the UK. Back and forth, yes, but they would at least be able to stay in one country for about two weeks before needing to go back to the other.

    I’m not addressing whether it’s a good idea or not, but simply saying there’d be a better way than up and shipping one of the current teams over there.

  24. The Lions Falcons game is going to be on TV at 830 am because it is in stupid London. Do you know how drunk I am going to be if I start cracking beers at 8 am? I can’t hang with the college kids anymore!

  25. One major question is how would the NFL assure an owner stay in London long enough to really get established? If it became clear that they’d make more money by moving to LA, for example, any of these billionaire owners would ditch London in a heartbeat. Realistically, there’d either need to be an agreement that the team couldn’t be moved for probably a decade at minimum or the league might even need to be the initial owner.

    Another huge challenge would be getting guys to want to play overseas for an entire career, as opposed to just their rookie contract or as a last-gasp before retirement. There was a poll of NBA players a few years ago where the vast majority said they had zero interest of even playing in Canada. And that’s a heck of lot closer and less foreign to Americans than anything they’d see in Europe. No reason to believe NFL players are any more excited about playing overseas.

  26. why London….how about North America if you really are not satisfied with 9 billion a year…..Mexico City is larger and would be a better place for west coast team than London. For that matter Tokyo or Seoul would still be closer for the west coast teams and both are larger metro area.

    Lets just keep it simple…why not play in all of these great cities, make it a global brand, but do it all in the preseason. I think it’s a joke to pay full price for a pre season games anyway with season tickets, but then you take one of my home games during the season and have that game played in London, thats an even bigger joke.

  27. In order to make it work you’d have to do the following:

    1) Have the London team in either AFC/NFC East;
    2) Have two road trips with three road games in a row each;
    3) Have two road trips with back to back road games;
    4) Give the team a dedicated practice facility somewhere on the east coast where they could train/live while on the road trips

    It’s pretty simple and the only real advantage would be when a west coast team was traveling all the way to London, as opposed to the London team traveling to the west coast from its east coast training facility.

  28. The NFL has sworn to never allow a team or game in Vegas due to the supposed horror of legal sports betting.
    They have sworn to sue New Jersey if they legalize sports betting.
    Somebody needs to inform the NFL hypocrites that there are legal sports books on just about every street corner in London!

  29. Los Angeles is basically its own planet, if NY is the city that never sleeps, LA is the city that never ends. I mean it seemingly goes on endlessly in every direction and its packed, everywhere.

    That is the problem. No matter where you put the stadium it will be a four hour drive just to get there for way too many fans. Too much else to do do go throught that mess every Sunday.

  30. If Goodell announced the decision to make the NFL regular season 2 games long, that would still be a better idea than having a team in London.

  31. When will the NFL realize that the only one interested in having a team in London is the NFL.

    Can’t put a team in one of largest markets in the US (LA), but wants one in a country where football means soccer. Idiots.

  32. Does anybody need any more evidence than this to show that the NFL doesn’t care at all about the fans, no matter what they continually claim?

  33. Goodell implementing dumb (non-safety) rule changes?
    Attempting unpopular globalization of the game?
    Credibility concerns (like lying about the Rice situation)?

    Swing! Swing! Swing! Three strikes, you’re out!

  34. I can’t think of a single good reason to put an NFL team in London.

    Los Angeles needs a team first.

    Then if the league still feels the need to go international, Toronto should be next. Aside from that, there are other USA cities who would surely like to have a team and could probably support one.

  35. Goodell=greed
    He does not care about fans only money.
    The shield should have a dollar sign on it and Rogers face!
    Somebody give Roger Mark Cubans phone #

  36. “Beyond staging NFL games in other countries, Waller and the NFL realize that more must be done to increase participation in football beyond the borders of the U.S.A. ”

    Why? What reason, besides money, is there to move a team to London at all? Is the well really running dry in the U.S.?

  37. London will get players no problem. All they have to do is one of two things: offer the most money or offer someone an NFL opportunity. Like every other team. Playing NFL football on a team in London or selling cars in San Diego. Not a hard choice. It will be “bad food, worse weather, and Mary…Poppins.”

  38. Here is a simple question. How can the NFL possibly expect their product to thrive overseas given

    a) its more complicated nature then rugby/football and couple that with b) the disgusting flag-fest Goodell has turned this game into which is making the product harder and harder. When the refs are under a mandate to throw flags at what they might see or what might be happening, not at what they see?
    They are calling penalties that alter games on appearance not on actuality. And we dont have to even get into the abortion that is spot fouls for PI.

    This utter inconsistency and the ability to change the outcome of games on arbitrary officiating makes the investment of interest by fans overseas less likely.

  39. You know what is never reported/heard/quoted?
    Candid comments from players about the rigors of travelling that far and playing a game.
    Wonder why that is.

  40. Roger, give it up already. I am starting to think you are making Mark Cuban into a prophet. BTW, Cuban is coming over to your place for tonight for dinner. He heard you killed the golden goose and he is hungry and wants to say “I told you so”.

  41. Presumably, fans of the London franchise would also want to watch other NFL games–especially games in their team’s division.

    So the late game on Sunday would typically air at 9:25 p.m., and the Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night games would begin airing at 1:30 a.m. London time. I doubt the UK fans will watch those games live. You can’t tape-delay the games because fans will already have the scores via Internet.

    Since the UK does not have college football, the players would have to come from the United States. So you’ll be asking drafted players to leave the country to live and work. And their aren’t enough elite players to man the 32 teams we have now.

    Then you have the logistical issues of travel for U.S.-based teams to accommodate road-game and playoff schedules.

    I have many reasons for wanting to see an end to the Goodell era, but none more than this farce of hoping to put a National Football League team in London.

  42. The obvious solution is to have 8 teams per year play one “home game” in London. That way, the fans in London get to see half the league every year. The 8 teams would be volunteers, and they would probably consist of the teams that are having trouble selling tickets at home. My team, the Jaguars, have said that the one game in London is extremely profitable. So there would probably be 8 teams that would want to have one home game there because of the money they would make. The Cowboys would never have a home game in London, but the Jaguars would be happy to have one home game in London because of the money. And probably 7 other teams.

  43. Get rid of Goodell and go back to NFL, not IFL. We are the National, not International Football League.

    Maybe LA should get a team and Buffalo should feel confident they can keep their team, before we expand to other countries. Or better yet, we STAY IN AMERICA, and encourage other businesses to do the same 🙂

    Go LIONS!

  44. Are you sure this guy works for the NFL? I’m somewhat suspicious, because whether you liked what he had to say or not, he actually answered the questions he was asked, instead of returning to his prepared talking points over and over. That makes he think the guy couldn’t possibly be an NFL spokesperson or employee.

  45. Start boycotting going to the games. You can still watch them on TV but don’t go. Only get enough people to form a segment of the crowd that reads ‘Fire Goodell.’ I get angry every time I look at his face.

  46. Good luck trying to enforce the insane blackout rules in London when the novelty of the NFL wears out and the sellouts stop, Roger. And how about that high tax rate in the UK, eh? Good luck getting free agents.

  47. No one outside of America cares about football. The London games are joke and tickets bascially are given out for free. Go to any country and ask them about the NFL and they will have no idea. Ask them about peyton manning and they will have no idea. NFL controls American but every other sport has more share of the world then the nlf.

  48. What a load of rubbish.

    Go to this independent TV ratings site for official TV viewing in the UK. The main game on Sky Sports gets about 80000 – 100000 viewers. Not 400,000.

  49. I completely agree with the sentiment of most fans and posters here that a team in London is a poor idea, especially in light of more obvious vacancies in North America.

    That said, those who believe that staging games in London is some sort of impossible logistical feat are whistling past the graveyard. The world’s premier Rugby Union league, Super 15, is comprised of teams located throughout South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The distance between Cape Town and Christchurch is over 11,000 km. The distance between Seattle and London is about 7700 km. Factor in the vast disparity in wealth between, say, the Guateng Golden Lions or the Durban Sharks, and the 49ers or the Cowboys, and the logistical excuse looks even worse.

    So, while the idea is daft for a number of cultural and competitive reasons, the logistics hurdle can easily be surmounted, despite popular belief.

  50. Greed and Stupidity, pure and simple. Mexico City…sure….the NFL is already wildly popular in Mexico and it’s only a 1 hour flight to many NFL cities. Ridiculous to consider putting a team on another continent though.

  51. If Europeans had a great interest in American Football I’m pretty sure some businessmen over there would already be all over it, creating their own league like Canada has done.

    I think they should play the ProBowl over there – fans would definitely come out to see their favorite players.

  52. The real challenge is going to get the people in England to pay (get taxed) for a stadium for an American billionaire. They won’t be using Wembley stadium for an official team will they?

    BTW: You can’t have a team in a place where this site doesn’t even recognize the word Wembley as an official word! It wants to spell check to Los Angeles

  53. Enough is enough with this crazy talk…..logicstically alone this will just NOT work. My 12 year old even understands that. The NFL needs to focus on improving their status in the states and not expanding to Europe where soccer remains and will ALWAYS be king.

  54. This is what happens when the ‘old school’ owners that built the NFL die off. Al Davis…Bud Adams…Ralph Wilson…Lamar Hunt…Malcom Glazer…Art Modell etc. The young & benificary owners don’t care about the history or integrity of the NFL. It’s JUST about the $$ for them. SAD.. The fans drive the league..not them.

  55. we all over look the fact that in the European Union free agency is illegal and so is staging a draft for amateurs into the pros. Good luck circumventing the law over there to allow that to happen for an NFL team. Once we figure that out then we can talk about stadiums, fans, taxes, etc. It has a novelty effect.

  56. jedicurt says: Sep 25, 2014 2:52 PM

    They play all preseason and first 4 games in USA on the road. they then play 8 straight games at home (traveling team always has their Bye the week following), they have their Bye week after the 8 straight home games, and then finish the season with straight games on the road…..

    Flip this. All pre-season games and first four at home.

    Make the Brits buy the crap exhibition games that we season ticket holders have to purchase and see how they like it then.

  57. London? What about Boise ID, Butte MT, Des Moines IA, Casper WY, Homer AK, Grand Junction CO, Omaha NE, and Yazoo City MS?

    All of those towns have more NFL fnas than London.

    Stop the London crap already.

  58. Let’s see, if I make a million a year in Houston, I keep about $650,000 of it, live in a big house, and drive a nice car.

    If I make that in London, I keep $3.25, live in a cereal box, and take the coach.

    Yeah, I’m scratching the London Redcoats off my free agency list.

  59. Just when most of us have had more than we can stomach of Goodell.

    Now this on top of it all…..

    Will somebody, will anybody PLEASE FIRE Goodell

  60. This story proves its all about money. Everyone wants Goodell gone and instead of listening to their fans (the people who buy your product) they would rather talk about adding a team in London. What a joke!

  61. Funny in the ’70’s they talked about a team in Hawaii and they determined the distance would be a detriment to east coast teams traveling, now how would it work, Seattle plays in London week 1, plays the 49ers week 2, back to the Dolphins in week 3 and home in week 4……….. this is just a pipe dream to put a team in London,

  62. I think the time has come for the NFL to just take stock of themselves, and cut out the “overreaching ” for the sake of the almighty dollar. Goodell is on thin ice in the court of public opinion, so the “move a team to London”, and all the headaches that go along with it needs to go away. Plus, the British are probably noticing the off the field issues and how they are mishandled, and want no part of it at all.

  63. I don’t see why they don’t just try to acquire the CFL, or just expand into Canada. For the most part travel would be so much more manageable, and a cross-border Super Bowl would be a ratings bonanza.

  64. So the NFL is going to start more heavily promoting a sport where 1/3 of its participants will suffer brain damage by the time they’re done with their careers.


  65. I do not want a team in London and I do not want a 18 game schedule and I do not want expanded playoffs so jerruh team can be in playoffs every year. its time to fire goodell and all his dumbass ideas

  66. I live in the UK and am a big NFL fan (and have been for 30 odd years). My comments..

    1. I am a Packer fan and would not support / cheer a London team. In fact I know no friend who would change the team he supports. Home London games would have no home support advantage.
    2. the viewing figures quoted of 400k are ridiculous. The actual official viewing figures for regular season games is 100k.
    3. The UK team could not play US prime time games as they would be played at like 2 am in the morning(UK time). So they would have to be played at 3pm US time (latest) which is not what you need for US TV. Imagine if NBC wanted them to be on SNF…they could not…same with TNF and playoffs. Of course this relates to them as a home team.
    4. Any player with a conviction will not be allowed in the UK to play…another issue.
    5. The idea is plain stupid
    6. It will fail
    7. Not many players will want to be in the UK…NFL TV coverage is awful (outside of games)… In fact it is almost non existent. During the off season we have no tv coverqge. Players would want access to normal US sports.
    8. Again, a stupid idea. It sells out because a load of people come to watch, but a real 8 game schedule will fail, especially if they are poor.
    9. I would not go even though I have seen numerous teams play in the US…except of course to see the a packers, but again there would be no home team support.

    That’s that!

  67. Let’s see some domestic expansion first. Besides LA there are opportunities in Las Vegas, Portland, SL City… It’s fun to speculate and it’s still a better idea than London.

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