NFL, once frowned upon by sport snobs as nothing more than a brash and confusing game has now become the fastest growing sport in the UK, and today NFL spokesperson Mark Waller confirmed a giant stride has been taken to further enhance the UK fandom.
Speaking as tickets for this years International Series of NFL matches go on general sale, with two games at Wembley Stadium and the debut match across the way at Twickenham, Mark Waller confirmed that by 2022, the UK could have its very own American Football franchise.
“I think we’re on track to deliver that. I fundamentally believe we will deliver that……The fan base is big enough and passionate enough that it can support a franchise,” said Waller this morning.
There has long been rumours of a franchise making their permanent home Wembley Stadium, or the soon to be built stadium for Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur. It’s an idea that has divided NFL fans, with some craving more action on a permanent basis, however some traditionalists have argued the authenticity of the ‘American game’ would be ruined if such a move was to occur, and don’t forget that any franchise move would upset the fans in the current city the franchise calls home.
The Wembley series of matches attracts sold out crowds every year, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have hosted a regular season home game since 2013, with their owner Shahid Khan also the chairman of Championship club Fulham F.C. However Khan has in the past denied it would be his franchise that would make the permanent move to London.
Waller who is the NFL’s executive vice chairman added “ We are in a unique position as a sport because of the way our season is structured – we only play one game a week.”
It’s a move that will divide opinion and for the past few years has been nothing more than a rumour, however with Waller’s comments and the continued popularity of American Football, it seems it’ll be sooner rather than later that London will become permanent hosts of a franchise.
We are of course assuming at this time that a current franchise would up sticks and move to London, however there is talk that a completely new franchise would be created however there would be many hurdles to consider if the latter approach was to be taken, given that the team would likely need an increased salary cap to combat the taxable income laws in the UK and the high demands of players to move over to London.
Such franchise moves aren’t uncommon in American Football, with the St Louis Rams just this week deciding to relocate to Los Angeles after moving to St Louis from LA back in 1995. These moves are often met with discontent so it would be interesting to see how a move to another country would be received amongst supporters.
What do you think of the plans to move a Franchise to the UK? Would it provide an extra spice to the game or would it inconvenience fans. Do you currently support an NFL team and would like to see them play their home games at wembley. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.