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Why the English FA may push for an NFL franchise in London

Sep 25, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT

Britain US NFL AP

This weekend at Wembley Stadium, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Minnesota Vikings in yet another NFL game hosted at the home of England’s national team.

Two NFL games will be played each year from now until 2016, and many expect more games to follow.

And many others believe the increased NFL games in London will eventually yield an NFL Franchise, and the English Football Association would be more than okay with that.

Roger Maslin, the managing director of Wembley, had this to say in a recent interview.

“We’d have to look very carefully at the calendar and make sure we have the right balance. Football is our priority but yes, I’m absolutely confident that if [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell wanted to have a franchise here, we could absolutely deliver on it.”

Squeezing in eight NFL games to Wembley’s yearly schedule should be no problem at all. Both the Steelers vs. Vikings game on Sunday and Jacksonville Jaguars against San Franscisco 49ers in October sold out within hours, and the FA’s eyes are lighting up as to the financial gains of a potential franchise in England’s capital.

(MORE: San Francisco 49ers the next NFL franchise to buy into Premier League?)

You see, for all of Wembley’s grandeur and vast acres of glimmering glass concourses, the place is still a drag on finances, with almost $400 million of structured debt left to pay. Having an NFL franchise present will help pay off the bills and enable the English FA to invest their money elsewhere. But should the NFL really be helping England’s national governing body do that?

It may sit uneasy with some Americans.

Anyway, apart from England internationals, which will usually be on a Friday, Saturday or Tuesday, there are no real fixtures conflicts at Wembley as the 90,000 capacity stadium goes unused for vast swathes of the winter. Even the Capital One League Cup wouldn’t clash. Any other event at the famous North London venue can be placed around NFL games.

It can work. And it sounds like the FA and those running Wembley want it to.

Of course, they need an NFL franchise first. But if London were somehow awarded a team, they don’t want to stop there. Maslin and Wembley’s other directors think they are in a great position to bid for the SuperBowl… should the NFL ever choose to host it outside the US.

I’m unsure whether that will ever happen, but London would surely be the best option if it does. But should fans of US sports, the NFL and U.S. national team feel a little uneasy about the NFL’s money directly benefiting the English national team and the organization that runs it?

Perhaps. Just throwing it out there.

  1. sknut - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    As an NFL fan, I would have no problem with a team in England. The logistics may make it impossible or as Florio from Profootballtalk has suggested a team may have 4 home games in England and 4 in the States.

    The Super Bowl I am not sure would work just because of the time difference, but I wouldn’t doubt the NFL willing to give it a try, if they are willing to have the Super Bowl played in New Jersey in February they will do anything in the name of a dollar.

  2. hildezero - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    XD This is a funny story. It won’t work…

  3. kb57 - Sep 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Hell, why not just set a long-term timetable (read: decades) for expanding to 40 teams, adding one in each division. Take a page out of Madden 25 and put an AFC East team in London and an NFC East team in Dublin. You’ve got Toronto for the NFC North, Columbus for the AFC North, Los Angeles for two clubs (expansion or relocation), and Mexico City for a southern division.

    Surely that’s a reasonable level of “too crazy” for Roger Goodell. >_>

  4. jrocknstuff - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Isn’t West Ham moving into Wembley in the next year or two?

    • gloryostrich - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      No they are taking over the Olympic Stadium

  5. danielofthedale - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Pride comes before the fall. The NFL is king, and there is very little be gained in my view by putting a team in London. The main reason is there is no easy way to fit in a single new team. At the very least you would need two new teams but that would throw the schedules out of balance. So unless you add eight new teams there would have to be a new divisional structure.

    Then you have the logistics of it. A team in London would never host a Monday, Thursday, or Sunday night game (US time). The NFL is getting to more 4:30 & 7:30 kickoffs for play off games and if London is hosting they would have to have an early kick time. I know that now teams that go to London get a bye week to recover, but that would not be allowable in the playoffs. Could you imagine say Minnesota flaying to London for the Wild Card Round and then having to go to San Francisco for the Divisional?

    I think the incremental financial gains do not off the competitive issues. I would welcome a Super Bowl in London than a franchise since the Super Bowl is not really for the fans any more anyway.

  6. randomhookup - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    You see, for all of Wembley’s grandeur and vast acres of glimmering glass concourses, the place is still a cash cow, with almost $400 million of structured debt left to pay.

    That’s not really what “cash cow” means. It is generally an older business that you can simply milk for its money. Sorta like the $17M a year the older owners of ABA franchises that didn’t make the NBA get paid by the NBA. An “albatross” might be a more appropriate animal metaphor.

    • Greg - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      At least it isn’t a white elephant, though the early days with *that* terrible pitch it looked like it might have been

  7. jrocknstuff - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Ah, ok. Thanks. I didn’t realize there were so many brand new stadiums in London.

  8. wfjackson3 - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    You are using the term cash cow incorrectly. A cash cow is a business that essentially requires no investment. In other words, once you buy the cow, you milk it until it dies or is no longer capable of delivering milk, aka cash.

    That could be what you are referring to, but it’s placed rather oddly next to a statement about debts. Cash cows are usually described with statements about how all of the free cash flow from a product is spent on something else.

  9. braxtonrob - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    Nice thought, now wake up! (lol) Excuse me, I have to go check and see if my money-tree is sprouting dollars yet.

  10. footballer4ever - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    No comment.

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