London franchise remains on NFL’s radar screen


When it comes to putting an NFL team in London, plenty of logistical challenges make it a long shot, at least for now.

But the NFL still hasn’t ruled out the possibility of doing business in England far more extensive than sending teams there for a handful of annual games. Appearing last week on PFT Live, Patriots owner Robert Kraft reiterated his opinion that a franchise may land in London on a permanent basis.

“I really believe it could happen,” Kraft said. “The logistics have to be worked out and I think as we continue to play three games there and maybe even more that a decision on that could happen before the end of the decade.”

Whether or not a team moves to London, the NFL will keep staging games there and in other countries every year. Because the NFL knows that the key to growing the revenue lies in growing the sport beyond American borders.

“I think we have to educate people about how great our game is and when we do — I know the two trips that we have made to London have been unbelievable — and the more people understand our sport the more love it and we have pretty much tapped out what we can do here in America,” Kraft said.

While football likely hasn’t reached the point of complete saturation in the United States, the ceiling is much higher internationally. If, over the course of the next 50 years, the NFL can continue to grow the fan base in other countries, a billion-dollar sport can be well on its way to becoming a trillion-dollar endeavor.

56 responses to “London franchise remains on NFL’s radar screen

  1. “The logistics have to be worked out.”

    The logistics can’t be worked out. You are not going to get big-time college football players from the big-five conferences who have spent most of their young lives preparing for a career in professional football to want to move to England to play.

    Problem one: A London team is going to require players who at least live in Europe, if not in the UK. Who wants to play their home games five to eight time zones ahead of where they actually live? That is NOT workable. You not going to get young men who played football in the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten or any other conference who are going to WANT to move to London for six months out of the year just to play football.

    Problem two: Right now, the NFL and (more importantly) American football, are still a novelty in Europe. When will this change? When European colleges and high schools start playing American football. The only reason the NFL is so big in America is because high school and college football were big long before the NFL got big. That is not happening in Europe.

    You want NFL teams in Europe? Get them to start playing American football in their high schools and colleges, and it will catch on. Until then, the NFL is wasting its time.

  2. “The logistics can’t be worked out. You are not going to get big-time college football players from the big-five conferences who have spent most of their young lives preparing for a career in professional football to want to move to England to play.”

    Of course they can be. I regularly go to Europe for work and its no big deal. I have to laugh at people who act like these guys are flying economy cattle car. They’re flying private charter first class. They will be expedited through customs. Nothing to it.

    You people also act like London is the 3rd world. If I was a young guy and my choices were playing in cities like Cleveland, Cincy, Minny or several other crappy places in the US vs playing in one of the most beautiful, exciting cities in the world I’d be more than happy to go to London.

  3. I don’t think they actually want a team there. What they want is the threat of a team going there so they can strong-arm existing NFL cities into building new McStadiums every 15 years.

    The minute the Rams to LA became final we started hearing about Mexico City. London is the new LA and Mexico City is the new London.

  4. Ignoring the international logistics and UK tax issues (of which there are many), 3 games per year in London has about maxed out the UK project. Maybe a 4th would still fill the stadium, but only on the basis that there are different teams each time as it maintains the novelty factor.

    Also, it is not just Londoner’s who fill the stadiums. Having been to a few London games, I would speculate that around 50% of those at games travel from elsewhere in the UK. That is not sustainable over a course of a season given the costs.

    If the NFL insist on making it a global sport then using China, Mexico, Germany and Australia as locations for a 17th regular season appears to make more sense.

  5. I think it can be done.
    London team would have to play 4 home games in a row, then 4 road games making a tour around the USA. Visiting teams would play their game and get their bye week after the game. It can be done

  6. No free agent would think about going to play in the UK because of the insane tax structure over there. Minimum salary for a player in the UK would have to be triple of what it is in the US for it to be even viable to risk ones body.

  7. This remains the dumbest idea the league has ever floated. Let Europe create their own league if they are so interested in football.

    The logistics will never change. There will always be an 8 hour time difference between west coast teams and London. A regular season with that severe a time zone difference is not remotely desirable. The UK vs US tax structure will always be an issue. A London franchise will never be able to compete in free agency as the top players will always want to live on US soil.

    Stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole just because you see an opportunity to make money.

  8. What is this obsession with expanding the NFL overseas? Why don’t they concentrate on putting franchises in cities that want it in the US?

    These guys are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

  9. NO!!! Leave the American football game in America!!! If Idiot Goodell wants teams to play in other countries then make a WORLD LEAGUE!!! No one wants to travel all over in war times!!!

  10. Do we agree that the main hold back to a London franchise is travel time?

    As rich as the NFL is, Boeing has an new SST that it has already developed and tested but chose not to proiduce because of fuel costs. I believe when the SST’s were originally built, there was only 4 or 5 in use at any time. The NFL should get with Boeing and work out a sponsorship deal or something and make 3 or 4 of them and cut the travel time from the East Coast to London in 3 hours and from the middle of the country to London in 4. That’s no more time in travel now than the east coast teams spend traveling to the west coast and vice versa. It is a one time investment and if they really want to do this they need to address the travel time issue and this would be a way to make everyone happy. Teams already have charter planes so just have the NFL pitch in and foot the bill for the London team and we are set. Teams can use the SST to travel to London and the London team can use the SST to travel to cities in the US. The SST’s can’t travel supersonic over land because of the boom but on a trip to London they can go as fast as they can if they want.

  11. Lets see how many cities and I guess countries the NFL and teams can use to threaten current NFL cities to build stadiums for them. LA is still on the map for a second team . If the Chargers leave then SD will become one. San Antonio , Las Vegas , London , China , Mexico , Toronto , Portland , St. Louis will be talked about but never going to happen. Oakland if the Raiders leave. I think most fans couldn’t care less about any team playing in London or any other country besides the US.

  12. For teams to have to fly out to London or for the London team to have to fly to the States to play a football game between the Flight time from CA 10.5 hours – NY 7.5 hours and change of time London is 6 hours ahead it’s really not fair for anybody

  13. Yay! A few people will make more money. The message here is only NFL owners wallets matter. Not fans, not players. Not coaches, not support staff. The time difference the issue no one can solve. Mexico City and Canada make geographical sense. The only potential benefit I can see is a widened talent pool. That is only if Europeans actually take up the sport. Even then consider how long it has taken soccer to gain a viewing audience here in the states.
    Garbage. NFL Europe was a better plan, but I guess it wasn’t making enough money.

  14. “denverdude7 says:
    Mar 28, 2016 10:13 AM

    Send the Patri*ts.

    They can then train Londoners on proper cheating techniques.

    The Pats are pikers in the area of cheating compared to the Broncos. Still in denial about the salary cap violations?

    Oh, and “Deflategate” counts in the column of the other 31 teams, not in the Patriots’ column. Since they didn’t do anything and were punished regardless.

  15. No offense NFL – but can we just working on getting an NFL team in say, Cleveland first, before we move on to London?

    Perhaps cleaning up the corruption of the NFL and Roger Goodell would be a wise thing to do before exporting that

    It took the FBI to take down a corrupt FIFA – in part because World Cup soccer isn’t as profitable in the US as elsewhere

    Seeing as no one in the US will take on a $40 billion NFL, perhaps the only way to save the sport is to export it to Europe and then have THEM do the investigation into the NFL finally

  16. Let see, who is the NFL saying needs a new stadium? I think the Bills are on deck, along with the already known Chargers and Raiders situation. So expect the NFL to hold you and your cities hostage over the London threat.

  17. It’s difficult to imagine a single team on the European continent playing in a division based in North America – logistically a European division makes a lot more sense. Expanding the number of NFL players to add four teams (+/- a 12% increase) would dilute talent across the league, but that might not be a problem for owners; adding four clubs each with a franchise fee in the neighborhood of a billion dollars would give each existing club a windfall ($125 million) that could soften the blow. Stranger things have happened.

  18. If you are a Buffalo Bills fan I would be worried about the future of your team in Buffalo. I read that at the owners meetings there were some owners talking about the need for a new stadium in Buffalo. Not your owner , but other owners saying that the stadium didn’t make them enough money. Then I read where the fans love the stadium . Love the tailgating , the sightlines and are happy with the prices compared to other stadiums. Why the need for a new stadium ? Greed . That’s why. So Buffalo get ready for the all rumors that your team is moving . Its BS but that’s the NFL. Its sickening. I hope no city has to go through what the King of California and the NFL put STL through.

  19. Here`s a idea Bob take the whole league over there and maybe we will let you play 2 or 3 games here each year, the only catch is you have to leave Our money here ! Marc Cuban is a genus , ps: how about some games in Cuba

  20. Looking at it from a purely business standpoint, many large US companies are relocating overseas to get out of the restrictive business environment in the US. Perhaps that is a larger reason for the “push” to get a team in London. How soon before the League is sued because of gender discrimination, forcing them to have 50% female on the team? How about trans-genders? Handicapped? Islamic terrorists?
    The NFL is being purely discriminatory by not having a fair percentage of them on the teams. The American system of litigation will doom businesses in the US, and smart businesses recognize it.

  21. The Almighty Cabbage says:
    Mar 28, 2016 10:39 AM

    I don’t think they actually want a team there. What they want is the threat of a team going there so they can strong-arm existing NFL cities into building new McStadiums every 15 years.

    Winner winner, chicken dinner. The same is true with Goodell claiming that Vegas is in the works so that the Raiders will have at least a smidgeon of leverage. The NFL and Davis want to screw over the Alameda County taxpayers AGAIN. We are STILL paying for the renovations to the coliseum from the mid 90s.

  22. Wow, a lot of defensive ignorance and hate here! I’m not saying a London team is right for now, but one day:
    1) The time zone is no barrier – NFL proved that with breakfast games.
    2) The travel time (London is only a couple of hours longer for an East Coast team than Seattle) is anyway due to come down – Virgin Atlantic have a 12-passenger supersonic business jet due to fly in 2019 and could be in service a decade from now. NFL could lease 4 for players enabling them to travel on the day in some cases!
    3) US and UK have like-for-like tax-treaties and eben some 2yr exemptions for many international business, sports, entertainment and academic employees on non-permanent visas – and the league could just have a formula whereby the remuneration and cap is adjusted if need be.
    4) THERE IS A COLLEGE-LEVEL GAME IN THE UK!!! But it’s small.
    5) Plenty of players would rather play in London than not play at all. And given typical lengths of contracts and free-agency etc – I can see plenty of guys happy to experience London for a few months each year for a few years.
    6) World League failed because there wasn’t enough interest in the US for a spring league or the US-based teams in it. The Europe teams (and Montreal) did ok. NFL Europe was under-invested and in Europe seen as an anticlimax to the World League. But a lot of coaches and players gave their NFL careers a boost from the experience and exposure it gave them. And international NFL revenues increased.

  23. Ctiggs you have it reversed. The UK is obsessed with everything we do. They are more obsessed with what goes on politically than most of Americans are. They all worship American music, actors, TV shows etc.

  24. I dont hate the idea of a London franchise eventually, but it needs to grow organically. Meaning youth in the UK need to play the game, rather than making a spectacle of it like a circus where there is a disconnect between the spectators and the sport. There need to be hometown heroes, they need to than eventually have college football and enter the draft. Otherwise? Its the Vancouver Grizzlies all over again man, a bizarre experiment gone wrong.

    Let me nerd out for my final point, I like the idea of exporting the sport to save it(like sending humans to other planets to save the race) but you have to make sure the target planet is inhabitable and can sustain life.

  25. Hahaha Kraft in the story stops the Fire Goodell crowd in the comments section of this story. There would have been 10-15 of those if not for Kraft.

  26. You want NFL teams in Europe? Get them to start playing American football in their high schools and colleges, and it will catch on. Until then, the NFL is wasting its time.

    The NFL needs to address the concussion problem here in the United States as well, because many parents are not allowing their children to play football here. The talent pool is shrinking at the source, which is not good for pro football over the next 10-15-20 years.

    Imagine when every team is as bad as the Browns. Come to think of it, that may be the only way the Browns can ever contend for a championship. They can bring the competition down to their level and beat them with experience.

  27. denverdude7 says:
    Mar 28, 2016 10:13 AM

    Send the Patri*ts.

    They can then train Londoners on proper cheating techniques.
    You mean like cheating the salary cap? Only 1 team has done that.

  28. The Almighty Cabbage says:
    Mar 28, 2016 10:39 AM
    I don’t think they actually want a team there. What they want is the threat of a team going there so they can strong-arm existing NFL cities into building new McStadiums every 15 years.

    The minute the Rams to LA became final we started hearing about Mexico City. London is the new LA and Mexico City is the new London
    I don’t want one over here, considering on what a huge failure the World League ended up being.
    Sure, they can sell three games out, but that is because you get general fans going. Every time i’ve been to one of the International games, i’ve seen shirts of all thirty two teams. Even the Browns. The idea that there will be a franchise willing to move over here would be a very strange one. As an expansion team is the only way i’d see it happening.

  29. collectordude says:
    Mar 28, 2016 12:03 PM
    Why have a team in London?
    No one there likes American ball.

    Yeah, those international games, it’s all US citizens flying over to see London, and catch a game while they are at it.

    Facts are, theres a few million people over here that do like american ball.

  30. Owners make me sick, they are greedy with no concept of loyalty.

    Jones, Kraft, Mara all spout off comments to boost their profits. Enough greed already.

  31. This is a stupid idea. They shouldn’t play any regular games in London. Did the NFL forget that NFLE failed? What did the NFL get out of that, like 6 players? If they put a regular franchise in London, how would they manage travel? 8 road games, 8 home games? or 4,4,4,4? What about Preseaon? Why not put a team in Hawaii first? Same travel problems, so why not? The NFL’s greed is endless. They won’t put Sunday Ticket on Cable, because they want 90 percent of the profits, but they’ll put a team in London? Why not simply buy out the CFL and put four or six expansion teams there?

  32. Could have sworn I watched the Patriots play against the London Silly Nannies a few years ago. They did a song from The Music Man at halftime.

    Can’t believe nobody else remembers this.

  33. Yeah right. Some moron in the NFL league office puts a proforma on the wall and shows the owners how much $$$ could be made in Europe, and the greed herd jumps all over it.

    Robert Kraft should let the other 31 owners try to explain this instead of jumping on the grenede. Maybe the other 31 owners can be responsible for something more that politics and lying….oh, and stealing $120M.

  34. Hitdog18 says:
    Mar 28, 2016 10:57 AM
    The London chargers?


    Actually the automaker Jaguar is already there. So if you could get them to sponsor a team you could have the Jaguar Jaguars, brought to you by Jaguar.

  35. Every time something like this is written, but-jobs come out of the woodwork to say it’s a bad thing, I don’t get it…it’s like a bunch of people acting like petulant children who don’t want to share their candy even though there is more than enough to go around. Stop moaning; it’s a losing battle! Get with the times! We live in a global society and there is nothing wrong with the NFL expanding internationally – every business hopes to eventually…

  36. jdotkeys……… I disagree. How does having an NFL team in London benefit anyone other than the NFL and the owners ? An expansion team ? that means even more water downed teams. Moving an established franchise because they cant get the stadium built at the expense of the city they are in ? I guess the bottom line is the NFL will do what they want. Fans can either watch or not. Sooner or later they are going to kill the golden goose.

  37. Love how pro-London team people say travel and logistics will not be an issue.

    Did you not see the competitive advantage (or so it’s been said) that Carolina had when Seattle played a game at 10am pacific time in the playoffs in Charlotte? Whether you want to believe it or deny it, the fact that it’s a legit argument and one that cannot be allowed to grow year by year, the London team farce will become that much more absurd.

    Can’t even figure out that argument yet and the rare supporter of this is bringing the naive to the talk.

    The players will not want to move there as free agents. That’s just the reality guys. They won’t want to move their families, go through the painstaking process of entering/living in a foreign country and all the paper work and red tape that it will undoubtedly entail. All this why? Because Goodell and the clueless owners wanna make more money.

    NFL is going to be like that restaurant where they once had a great thing but pushed it out too far and it got out of hand and the product suffered.

    honestly I think some people would say putting a team on the moon would be conceivable.

  38. As someone who has lived abroad, it’s not that difficult – I mean I know the average American has trouble using their brain, but come on! A new teams means more jobs, more people realizing their dream of playing football for a living! The GBP is one of the most stable currencies in the world and London is a world class city! Why wouldn’t you want to live there? London or Oakland, Green Bay, Cleveland? Wouldn’t have to think too long on the one…you guys live in the American exceptionalism bubble and it isn’t doing your higher learning centers any favors…the NFL is a business, the owners will do what is best for business – you should probably come to terms with that.

  39. jdotkeys……..It is a huge business. You are correct the NFL will do what is best for business but a lot of fans don’t think this is good for football. Fans don’t care about the business side of the NFL. In fact I would say they are sick and tired of the business side of football. The NFL and their owners are so far removed from the average fan that they lose sight of what the fans want. They push everything down our throats and tell us to like it or else. The NFL is near its peak. They will kill the golden goose sooner or later. Going to Europe is bad plan.

  40. is playing in London a subtle way to attempt to revive the now defunct European football league? pretty sure 1 team would eventually grow into several franchises..

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