Not many people would expect many people in the UK to get all that excited about football (that is, American football) games. But over the last decade, the NFL experimented with sending a few games per year over to London – and the turnout blew everyone’s expectations out of the water.
This international series began in 2007 with just one game. But it wasn’t long before they upped that to four games a year. And this year, all four games sold out. The NFL estimates about 15 million fans in the UK, and that number seems to be growing every year. With its own stadium in London and the NFL already working on renovations to configure Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for American football, there is certainly more of a future for the NFL overseas.
Talks about moving a team across the pond have indeed taken place. And since the Chargers’ 2017 move to Los Angeles has evoked such a low fan turnout at games, they’re high on the list of which team would best suit this potential move.
But…suspicious fans can hold their horses. London is nowhere near being the new permanent home of any NFL team.
When asked about the rumor, the NFL insisted that “there is no substance whatsoever to this report.” And Dean Spanos, owner of the Chargers, held no feelings back as he publically shut the idea down.
But people from San Diego have reason to be skeptical of these denials. As the previous home of the Chargers, San Diegans remember when Spanos vehemently denied that they would be moved to L.A. – where, after just a year or two, they ultimately were moved. Of course, changing cities within the same state doesn’t come with the same risks as making Europe the base of a North American pro sports team for the first time.
Another big obstacle stopping this move from even being put on the table yet is that for the Chargers, moving to LA came with a condition: they’re contracted to be tenants of a new stadium (built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke), once it opens in 2020. So that would be one difficult contract to break.
If anyone is going to move to London, people seem to believe that the Jaguars – who began playing in London first, in 2013 – should be the first ones. Their owner Shad Khan went so far as to try buying a stadium last year. But even Khan denied interest in permanently moving his team there.
The truth is, even the promising game sellouts may not be able to compensate for the massive cost of sending a team overseas. So for now, NFL fans…you can stay in your chairs.