It was reported several weeks ago that the NFL was planning to have at least one, if not two, teams in Los Angeles in the next two years. Well, it looks like Los Angeles isn’t the only major city the NFL wants to field a team, as they’re looking to either move a current franchise or start a new franchise in London, England within the next 8 years.
Mark Waller, the NFL’s international chief, said that he believed in 2007 when the NFL began playing games in London that it would take at least 15 years to place a team there and, so far, he’s encountered absolutely no stumbling blocks.
“We’re at the midway point of that 15-year journey,” Waller told Reuters in a telephone interview from London where the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons will play Sunday at Wembley Stadium. “I think we’re exactly on track.”
This Sunday’s game at Wembley will be the second of three sold-out games that will be played there this season.
“I always thought it would take 15 years to be truly rigorous in our analysis before we get to the end of what we can deliver.”
“All of the indicators are that there’s a huge level of support, there’s a very good stadium, and now we’re starting to realize there’s a belief within British sport and British government that what we’re trying to accomplish is not only attractive but doable.”
“If we’re successful in the UK, that’s a good indicator that we can grow the sport and its interest globally. It’s not that we’re going to be in 160 countries, it’s going to be very focused. We’ll look at the next one or two markets.”
The NFL’s success in London this season is a very good sign that they could be successful there on a regular basis. Each NFL game at Wembley this season will draw more than 83,000 people.
George Osborne, the British treasury chief, told the Evening Standard newspaper that the British Government will do everything they can to make sure the NFL will eventually end up with a team in London.
If the NFL is successful in London, Waller said that the league will look to place a team in both Germany and Brazil.
The Detroit Lions will go head-to-head with the Atlanta Falcons in the second of three NFL games in London this coming Sunday. The contest will start at 9:30 a.m. eastern time on Fox.
[Image via ussportgeeks.de, quotes via reuters.com]