How soon until fans hear “God Save the Queen” before NFL games?
British treasury chancellor George Osborne told the London Evening Standard that he has been in talks with the NFL to bring a franchise to Wembley Stadium.
“This is primarily a decision for the owners of the clubs and the NFL organisation but I’ve said to the NFL that anything the Government can do to make this happen we will do,” Osborne told the paper, “because I think it would be a huge boost to London.”
Players believe the travel would be a huge drain on them. Roger Goodell, who seeks to boost revenues from $10 billion to $25 billion by the mid-2020s, sees a London franchise as an integral part of the league’s growth. Whereas the NBA’s growth has come almost exclusively abroad, the NFL’s massive revenues come almost exclusively from North America. Breitbart Sports reported from Goodell’s Super Bowl week press conference in which he struck a bullish tone on a London franchise, calling sellouts for three 2014 Wembley Stadium games “just another indication that the more we give the fans NFL football in the UK, the more they want.”
The Atlanta Falcons play the Detroit Lions this Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time at Wembley Stadium.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, owned by Brit Shahid Khan, has long been the subject of rumors–or, perhaps in this case, rumours–of a move across the Atlantic. Because of blackout concerns, the team has diminished the capacity for Jaguars home games by almost 10,000 seats in recent years. Though profitability concerns spark talk of relocation, the Jaguars’ lease on EverBank Field runs until 2030. An early departure might cost the team tens of millions of dollars. Other franchises suffering through financial and/or stadium troubles include the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, both of which have been linked to possible moves back to the Los Angeles market.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Osborne acknowledges of a London franchise, “but over the next few years. I just think it will cement London as a global sporting capital as well as a global financial and business and cultural capital.”
“We warmly welcome the chancellor’s strong support for the possibility of an NFL team in London and look forward to welcoming him to a game at Wembley over the next few weeks,” the NFL responded to Osborne’s remarks in a prepared statement. “Our key priority is to continue to build our fan base in the U.K. so that there is strong demand for any future plans in London.”