Sports

NFL Culture Captivates London: England shows an increasing interest to have a London football franchise.

      Last Sunday marked eleven years of the NFL ondon Classic, featuring the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. The first game dates back to the 2007 NFL season when the stadium opened up, extending permission to host yearly professional American football games.

      Similar to the annual NHL Winter Classic that hosts three outdoor hockey matches in multiple cities, including the use of a few MLB stadiums, the NFL London games setup play in recently established football stadiums, sending a few teams to play at least once a year intentionally. Here the FA England team has a partnership with the owners of the stadium to have liberty hosting home games where the fans come gather in support. London fans have shown their dedication to the NFL games, so much so that the league predicts a potential London franchise by at least the year 2023.

      About 1.5 million people have gathered in attendance throughout the NFL London matches. Plans incorporate the use of three stadiums home to either the English soccer team or national rugby team, within the revenues Tottenham, Wembley and Twickenham. Tottenham will hold a 10 year contact to host two games per year, as the new stadium unveils this year. According to Murad Ahmed in the Financial Times report, “the NFL is attempting to grow by gaining a foothold in other countries.” As the years add up with an established presence of American football, more supporters continue to reveal their approval.

      The man behind-the-scenes discussing moves and laying out the framework over the next few years, is NFL’s Executive Vice President of International, Mark Waller. Waller in 2014 was elected for this position, both for his experience and influence in international business. There may be no one better to understand London’s admiration of football than a British native himself. Waller believes the plans for franchise are possible and promising. Last year when anticipating an NFL checklist of approval he stated, “The fundamental question, which we are as yet unable to answer, is: could a team in London be competitive week in, week out, year in, year out?” His vision is to expand the league overseas with a range from six to ten countries willing to corporate and have international play, each with the same potential for a chance to win a Super Bowl.

      This November will also feature the NFL’s return to Mexico City, which held the very first game outside of the U.S. back in 2005. London continues to be a favorite contender to possibly move an already established NFL franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars currently hold an agreement to play three times in London as part of their season schedule. The owner Sadiq Khan believes the move may be of best interest for the team, as they have struggled financially in the past and have yet to win a Super Bowl. With London’s vibrant economy, marketing sponsors, and massive fanbase, any team place there is expected to thrive.

      Sources: ESPN, Financial Times

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