The NFL has made it no secret that they wish to expand their brand nationally and globally, through increasing the competitiveness of the league as well as expanding marketing abroad. The major way they have done this is through the international games that they have played in other countries. These international games are regular season games that count towards the seasons standings, but are played outside the US. The biggest of these are the London series that now features 3 games a season played in a venue in London, it started in 2007 and has featured 30 regular season games as well as every team in the league once the Green Bay Packers play their scheduled 2022 London fixture. There have also been games played in Mexico City and Toronto thought these haven’t been as long standing or as many. The massive success of these games which have drawn massive crowds and financial success have lead to the NFL to recently pass an International Home Marketing Area initiative that granted access for 18 teams to operate in 8 different countries, including 6 teams operating in the UK. This allows the teams “access to international territories for marketing, fan engagement and commercialization”. In 2022 Munich, Germany will host it’s first international series game, as the NFL continues to expand on its global expansion.
This aggressive expansion globally has lead to talk from fans, media as well as the NFL themselves about a NFL franchise based outside of the US. Mexico City, Toronto and London have all been mentioned as possible locations but London is by far the most considered with NFL executives going as far as predicting a London franchise by 2022, though these predictions were made way before the 2020 pandemic shook things up. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been seen as a potential franchise that could be relocated to London as they are a smaller team that is relatively new, and this is boosted by the fact that for the last few years the Jaguars have played a game in London every year. I am personally against a permanent London franchise as I think the thousands of miles and the vastly different time zones pose a hurdle for competitiveness and logistics that can’t be successfully navigated. Players wouldn’t be as drawn to move to a city so far away from home meaning they would struggle signing top talent. Having to travel such a distance means that visiting teams would struggle and the London team would struggle when traveling as there are now 17 games a season so going back and forth throughout the season would take its toll. Also, the fanbase it the UK is split amongst the 32 current teams, so there wouldn’t be an immediate large fanbase to support the new team. Having been to several London games personally I can attest the fact that even though one of the visiting teams is technically the home team, the games feel more like exhibition games with no real advantage gained for the designated home team.
I’m Aidan Moore, a Graphic Design student at University Centre St Helens.
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Based in St Helens, Merseyside, UK