By Mat Smith
American football has become increasingly popular since its arrival at Wembley in 2007. However will the NFL really be able to convert the entire country?
The NFL has hosted the ‘international series’ at Wembley since 2007. This has proven to be a very popular move as the stadium has drawn near its 90,000 capacity in following games.
The ‘International Series’ has its pros and cons. Fans in the U.S. have become irritated when their home games have moved to an international field. It also has the possibility of putting teams in ‘the red zone’ after travel expenses etc. have been taken into account. However there is no gain without risk and the possible prosperity of a European NFL is what keeps the owners attention.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to be the U.K’s first home team to the dismay of their Florida fans. The team’s owner Sahid Kahn has hopes to move the team to the U.K within the next year. But can you blame his temptation when viewing figures have doubled since the London games started broadcasting, and sales of NFL merchandise have increased tenfold.
A controversial question surrounding this is how the chairman of the NFL; Rodger Goodall would operate around the control of the league. Whether his powers should increase or decrease or even elect a new Chairman for a European League.
But lest we forget, this has all been attempted before. The London Monarchs. They were part of an attempt to introduce the NFL to Europe. However the league only lasted from 1991- 2007 and it’s safe to say that although the dream lasted over fifteen years it evaporated. The London Monarchs played their last game as the England Monarchs in 1999.
So who is to say that this newest attempt by the NFL to branch out to their continental cousins won’t fall at the first hurdle? Or will this new sway by using established teams, provide the NFL the opening they’ve been looking for. One thing is for sure, the fan base is here… ready and waiting.