In a Q+A with the MMQB.com’s Peter King, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank spoke about the future of a London franchise, and speculated that the success of past regular season games played in the city could lead to a team’s move there.
“I think it will lead to [a team]. I think it will start with an increased number of games. That will be translated into a very successful series of games, and eventually, I think a franchise. And maybe more than one. London’s a big city … I think eventually having that many games says that we really are playing a season in London, so we probably ought to have a team here. I think it will be a natural progression to a team.”
When could that happen? Blank said sooner rather than later, based on the the response to the regular season games played in Wembley Stadium.
“Less than you’d think,” he said. “The success has been remarkable, and I don’t see any reason why it’s going to slow down.”
The NFL is the most popular sport in the United States and is a revenue-making machine. Adding exposure to entirely new markets across the globe makes business sense. The theory is that the league will begin to acquire life-long fans in London, who have the potential to become engaged and willing to spend their disposable income on tickets and merchandise.
Also a benefit for the league, a franchise in London would increase television revenue, with the assumption that a massive market is being absorbed into the current contract. More eyeballs means more advertising, which means more money
If done correctly, a team (or two) in London will make money for the NFL. Whether it’s more viable to be done with the relocation of a franchise, or expansion remains to be seen.
The problem will be convincing players it’s the right move. Lengthy travel times, jet lag and unfamiliarity with the foreign surroundings are among the reasons some players would prefer to keep the NFL in the United States.
Although the timeline on Blank’s forecast is optimistic, the NFL seems to think otherwise. The league’s vice president of international Chris Parsons told USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Pelissero in September that a move to London “clearly wouldn’t be something that would happen in the near term.”
What do you think about one or two NFL teams in London?
Is an NFL franchise in London a possibility?
Certainly. Years down the road, it could be an objective the league feels is worth completing. With obstacles and logistics in the way, however, just don’t count on it happening any time soon.