Can the NFL work in London? American Football in England?!


Ninh explains: Can the NFL work in London
There’s been a lot of talk recently with
the NFL moving an American Football team to
London, England?! After several years of highly
successful games being staged at Wembley Stadium
(and yes, I was there) there’s many debates
as to whether a team will move to London or
not.
To answer this question, we need to ask two
further questions:
1) Is it commercially viable to operate a
team in London?
2) Will they actually do it?
Is it commercially viable to?
Every game staged at Wembley over the last
few years has been a sell-out, so it seems
that us Brits actually like American Football.
Contrary to popular belief by Americans, there
is a huge fan base for the NFL here in England.
And a team in London wouldn’t just be supported
by Londoners, but by the whole of the UK and
possibly even Europe.
Dallas are America’s team, and London might
just be Europe’s team.
And that’s just the fans. Think about the
money from gate receipts.
£25million in ticket sales for the three
games hosted in London this year.
If the NFL was in London already, they’d
be #3 in the ticket sales chart!
And that’s not including the crappy Wembley
food, copious amounts of extortionate alcohol
and tacky souvenirs that were peddled across
not just the stadium, but the entire city
of London.
Even more money gets made by the TV companies
showing the NFL.
Channel 4 and Sky earned massive ratings and
massive revenue from advertisers during the
three games this year, and Sky generally earns
significantly more as they show games from
across the entire season.
The team most likely to make the move is the
Jacksonville Jaguars.
They struggle to sell out their own stadium
but have had no problems doing that over here
they already have a consistent fan base in
the UK and their owner Shahid Khan also owns
Fulham Football Club, which is just 6 miles
away from Wembley Stadium.
Even the government wants in on the NFL. Chancellor
George Osbourne has publicly stated that the
government would welcome an NFL team, but
not that he’s an American Football fan of
course. He’s just after all those American
Tourist dollars that will roll in every week.
There’s no question that there’s huge
demand and short supply over here in England.
An NFL team is commercially viable.
Now the question becomes:
Will they actually do it?
And the answer is: probably not.
There are 8 main reasons standing in the way
of an NFL team coming to London. Starting
with
1) The City of Los Angeles.
It’s no secret that LA wants a team back
in the city. They’re even building an NFL
ready stadium just in case. Why move all that
way across the pond, when you’ve got a ready-made
American market with an American Stadium,
American-sized junk food and an American Audience.
Speaking of which …
2) It’s a bloody long way away.
Anyone who’s been on a transatlantic flight
will tell you that it’s tough going. Having
to do that every week and then try to play
your best football wouldn’t be easy. The
distance between San Diego and London is a
staggering 5,478 miles. These kind of long
haul distances cause problems for both teams,
as that’s the distance that both teams would
have to cover at least once if they were in
the same division. It’s bad news when your
helmet travels more distance than you do when
going on holiday.
3) The players and staff.
Convincing the players, coaches and executives
to trade in sunny Jacksonville for cold horrible
rainy London is a hard sell. The money isn’t
green, there are no Dairy Queens, it’s always
raining and players and coaches won’t be
seeing friends and family for weeks on end.
That’s enough to make Bill Belichick frown
even more than usual … if that were at all
possible.
4) Raising the salary cap.
Due to the high rates of taxation in the UK,
and that evil chancellor trying to take all
your money, you’d have to pay the players
more to offset the high taxes and high cost
of living in London. This means raising the
salary cap for just one team. Something which
I’m pretty sure none of the 31 other owners
would want.
5) Jacksonville fans.
Okay so they don’t sell out their stadium,
but the true die hard Jaguars fans might have
something to say about their team moving not
only to a different city, but a different
country altogether. One that isn’t driving
distance away.
6) The England National Football Team.
The national team and their fans already hate
the NFL for “ruining their pitch”. The
grass at Wembley Stadium has always been atrocious
and regular American football use on a field
that was designed for football is going to
cause some headaches. Even though that entire
stadium was paid for with taxpayer money,
the national team would have final say over
when an American Football team could play
there. Because heaven forbid England actually
win a game on that high-cost-crap-quality-grass-surface
at Wembley.
7) Logistics.
It’s not just the players and coaches that
have to make the trip. Converting a multiuse
stadium every week to host American Football
one day and Football or Rugby the next isn’t
easy. And then think about the road team who
has to ship all their equipment, training
supplies, illegal steroids and secret mistresses
is going to be hard work. Games will almost
always have to be played at 9:30 on a Sunday
morning to make the American Audience back
home watch the games.
8) Football will still be king.
Many sports have tried and failed to dislodge
the national game from the top spot. In fact,
no league comes anywhere near the Premier
League for attendance and ratings in the UK.
It’s a hard task convincing people to stop
watching Manchester United and watch the New
York Jets instead. I mean, Jets fans don’t
even want to watch their own team!
Of course, there’s lots of other problems
associated with having a US franchise in London.
Different laws, customs problems, security
issues, TV ratings back in the US etc.
And because of these problems, it’s unlikely
that London will have an NFL team soon, certainly
not before Los Angeles, and probably not before
a host of other suitable cities. But who knows?
Where there’s a will, there’s always a
way.
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Ninh Ly, www.ninh.co.uk, @NinhLyUK

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