Since 2007, London has been host to 30 NFL games, the sport proving a resounding success for decades. The last two weeks have seen the most recent matchups take place in the capital, as the Atlanta Falcons took on the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins faced the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The games this past fortnight have witnessed sell out crowds, with supporters of various NFL teams attending the matches, highlighting the sport’s popularity in the country.
The University of Gloucestershire’s American Football Social Media Officer Haydon Wilkinson believes that the sport can benefit from the overseas games.
“I think it’s great that there are international games in London, it brings the sport a fresh wave of supporters every year. These matches are the only time other than the Super Bowl that the sport is free to air in the UK which is massive.”
With these London games comes the debate of whether a NFL team based in London could become a reality.
Back in 2018, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell believed that the prospect of a UK-based team could be viable after Shahid Khan became interested in purchasing the Jaguars and the side played multiple games in London. However, with the logistics involved regarding travel and sustained fan support, the idea is looking less feasible by the day.
Wilkinson also feels that this might not be the easiest thing to manage, citing current fans’ devotions to teams in America amongst other things.
“I’m not entirely sure having a franchise in the UK would be the most sustainable thing due to fans’ allegiances to current NFL teams, so they probably wouldn’t be willing to change to a new team with no history. There will be a new European League for American Football with a British franchise which will truly tell if there is enough of a market to have an NFL team over here.”
Away from the supporting side of the sport and it is well known that it is more often than not the lesser NFL teams that are scheduled to play in London, as Wilkinson believes that it is mainly due to monetary reasons.
“In my opinion it is due to revenue. It is why the Green Bay Packers have never come over here [to England]. They don’t want to lose their home game revenue because every match they play is a sell-out. I think the reason the Jags come over here so often is because Tampa Bay and Miami for fans, with all the sides based in Florida so they come over to try and create a fanbase they can’t get back “home“.
One thing is for sure, the NFL games in London show no sign of losing significance, but only time will tell whether or not a British based NFL team can become a reality.