Float or sink? American football in the U.K.

London's Wembley stadium, normally a soccer stadium, has hosted seven NFL games since the 2007 season.

The Puzzler

London's Wembley stadium, normally a soccer stadium, has hosted seven NFL games since the 2007 season.

On Sunday, Sept. 29, the NFL hosted their sixth annual game in London at Wembley stadium. The game featured the (0-3) Pittsburg Steelers against the (0-3) Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings held on with a 34-27 win. Since the 2007 season, the NFL has sent two teams across the pond each year for a mutal site matchup. This year is the first year the NFL is presenting two games in London. Taking place on Oct. 27, the (0-4) Jacksonville Jaguars will play the (2-2) San Francisco 49ers.

Football was first introduced to the U.K. back in the ’80s, when the first NFL game was broadcasted on national TV. Since then, the NFL fan base has tripled in the United Kingdom. According to a recent poll, 11 million out  of 63 million people are NFL fans. That is about 17% of the total population. In comparison, about 59% of the U.S. follows football. With the development of college football in the U.K. (42 teams), is it time for NFL football?

“I do think it is the right time for NFL football in the U.K because the expansion will create revenue and more media coverage to a bigger audience,” sophomore Matt Blake said.

There are two options in establishing a franchise in the United Kingdom. Option one is to create a franchise from scratch. With already 32 teams in the NFL, this option is very unlikely due to the imbalance. The last team introduced to the NFL  was the Jacksonville Jaguars, in 1993. This option would take anywhere from three to six years. A more reasonable option is to relocate another NFL team to London.

The newest team in the NFL, the Jaguars, look like the best fit for London. Over the past four years, Jacksonville has had at least one scheduled game in London. With having the leagues third worst attendance rate, and second worst overall value ($840 million), a switch to London could be reasonable. Jacksonville’s new owner, Shahid Khan, has ties to the United Kingdom. Khan owns the Fulham Football Club (FCC), of the Barclays Premier League.

There are many conflicts that come with the relocation of a sports franchise, especially to London. First, the franchise leaves the fan base in the cold. When the Colts left Baltimore in 1950 for Indianapolis, the city was abandoned until the Ravens united the city from Cleveland in 1996. The city of Jacksonville will no longer have a sports franchise.

“If Jacksonville loses their football franchise then I think it would be really emotional for the city. The Jaguars have been there so long, I think it is a bad idea for them to move,” freshman Josh Gorman said.

The second problem will be the extreme time zones. The 3,500-mile distance between London and the U.S. will cause difficulty in traveling for all NFL teams. Coverage of games will also have to be recorded because of the six-hour time difference.

“It will be very difficult for NFL teams to travel too and from London week in and week out, let alone playing there on a regular basis. I believe this problem will be very hard to over come,” sophomore Jacob Ransom said.

The third and final problem with having a franchise located in London is that it will have to earn 24 out of 32 votes issued by the owners. Majority of the owners would rather see a franchise located in Canada before London. With already nine major sports teams in Canada, a football team would be realistic.

“I would rather see an NFL franchise in London over Canada. The reason why is because it is new territory for an American based sport to conquer. The stage in London would be more exciting then Canada,” sophomore Daniel Bickert said.

There are various issues the NFL has to fix before putting a franchise in London. NFL across the pond is not completely out of the picture just yet though.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Parkway School District.