The good news for the NFL is that its London fan base is big enough that games at Wembley Stadium sell out quickly. The bad news is there’s a growing perception among the UK fan base that the NFL is a greedy interloper fixated on maximizing profits while pricing out average fans.
Tickets for two games at Wembley Stadium went on sale yesterday, and the NFL announced early today that the Eagles-Jaguars game on October 28 has already sold out, while the Titans-Chargers game a week earlier has only “very limited single tickets available.”
That’s a healthy sign that the NFL is profitable in London, and it’s one of the reasons that Jaguars owner Shad Khan is eager to buy Wembley Stadium and put more NFL games there. At the same time, it was frustrating to local fans who couldn’t get tickets, especially when many of those tickets immediately popped up on resale sites for significantly more than the listed price.
“Due to the unprecedented demand for this sale, we understand that fans who missed out on tickets are frustrated,” the NFL said in a statement.
Liz Fox, who writes about the NFL from a UK perspective, noted that tickets on resale sites are priced so high that fans might as well buy a plane ticket and fly to the United States for a game.
“We love the fact we get games here in the UK, but if tickets are ending up on resale sites for £500 [$700] a ticket, fans will opt to save their money and head to America to see the real action,” Fox writes. “Genuine fans are being priced out by greedy individuals and businesses. If this continues, the NFL will see less fans being able to attend games, and in turn fans confidence will be lost when it comes to a franchise.”
The NFL has become popular enough that it can sell out a stadium in London. But it wants to become popular enough to generate big television ratings in the UK. And a perception that it’s catering only to the fans who can afford the expensive tickets at Wembley could hold the league back in the long run.