The Chargers’ return to Los Angeles isn’t going well. And that reportedly is making them a candidate to become the NFL’s first permanent team in London.
According to Vincent Bonsignore, who covers the Rams for TheAthletic.com, “[T]he possibility of the Chargers moving to London has been broached among league personnel.”
It’s an unusual report, to say the least, and it invites speculation as to the motivations of those who have leaked to the media the notion that the Chargers could be the team to relocate to another continent.
Consider this reality, which isn’t mentioned in Bonsignore’s lengthy story: It has become a given within league circles that Jaguars owner Shad Khan has secured a de facto right of first refusal on moving to London. At a minimum, the Jaguars would need to say that they aren’t moving before the Chargers or anyone else would. (Unless the NFL plans to place two teams there.)
So maybe someone is trying to force Khan’s hand, nudging him to poo or get off the loo regarding a move to England by throwing the Chargers into the mix. Or maybe someone connected to the Rams is trying to bring to a head whatever issues may be percolating behind the scenes regarding the actual or perceived inability of the Chargers to pull their financial weight in the stadium the Rams and the Chargers will share.
Indeed, before the Chargers could play in any city except L.A., Rams owner Stan Kroenke would have to agree to let the Chargers out of their 20-year lease. Given the unprecedented expense of the stadium that is nearing completion in Inglewood, it’s highly unlikely that Kroenke would cut the inventory of annual games to be played there from 20 to 10 without significant compensation from someone.
Then there’s the question of whether Chargers ownership would want to move the team so far from California.
As a source with knowledge of the situation has explained it to PFT, no one from the league has ever talked to owner Dean Spanos or any of the Spanos family members about a potential move to London. For years, the family has made a ritual of traveling from their home base in Stockton to Chargers home games. If those home games will be played more than 5,000 miles away, that’s a tradition that would be very difficult to continue.
“We are fully committed and focused on Los Angeles and look forward to continuing to build our fanbase as we transition to our new stadium,” Dean Spanos told Bonsignore. “We’re seeing progress every day, and we look forward to building on that.”
So, frankly, this report feels like it flows from a deliberate effort by the unnamed sources who have fueled it to pushing some other agenda. Whether it’s related to nudging the Jaguars to London or working out whatever issues may linger between the Rams and Chargers regarding their new home, something more seems to be going on than the early stages of an eventual breaking of the Chargers’ 20-year lease in L.A. and a departure to a city that is more than 20 percent of the circumference of the planet away from their current home.