If one or two NFL teams move to Los Angeles, the NFL will need a new potential destination to which an owner can threaten to move his franchise if/when efforts to finance a new stadium with public money fail.
Playing the role of Los Angeles once the NFL returns there could be London.
Despite many logistical issues that would seem to make it ultimately impractical, talk persists of a team moving to London. According to the London Evening Standard, Chancellor George Osborne says he has pledged full backing of the British government to a potential franchise move.
“This is primarily a decision for the owners of the clubs and the NFL organisation but I’ve said to the NFL that anything the Government can do to make this happen we will do, because I think it would be a huge boost to London,” Osborne said. “We could have not just the Star Spangled Banner at the beginning of NFL games but also God Save The Queen.”
So when could it happen?
“I think that there’s a chance in the next few years to get an NFL team for London,” Osborne said. “There are 32 teams in America — and one of them could be a London team. That’s a serious prospect.”
“We warmly welcome the Chancellor’s strong support for the possibility of an NFL team in London and look forward to welcoming him to a game at Wembley over the next few weeks,” the league said in response to Osborne’s remarks. “Our key priority is to continue to build our fan base in the UK so that there is strong demand for any future plans in London. We will do this by ensuring that we are able to offer top class action on the field and brilliant events — which include the fan rally at Trafalgar Square on Saturday — off it. We are looking forward to two exciting upcoming games in London and are committed to further strengthening the links between the NFL and our UK fans.”
The NFL began its London series in 2007, with one game per year. Last year, the NFL increased to two. This year, the total inventory has increased to three.
An alternative to moving a team to London continues to be playing up to eight games per year there, each involving different teams. The primary challenge to that approach comes from persuading enough teams to give up periodic home games. Recently, the NFL moved a step in that direction by requiring all Super Bowl host teams to give up a home game to London.