Two NFL games are being held at Wembley Stadium in London this season. That number might not be enough, as the city recently expressed increased interest in its own franchise.
This Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings travel to London to duke it out. Then, in late October, the San Francisco 49ers will square off against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium
Both games reportedly sold out mere hours after tickets went on sale. The interest in American football in the UK is real, and Wembley Stadium hopes to one day be the site of a permanent franchise.
According to the NFL’s Senior Vice President of International, Chris Parsons, the “core” fan base for the NFL in the UK is two million. He claims the size has doubled over the last three seasons, and that he’d “like to see that at least double again in the next three or four years. That would put us among the top five sports in the U.K. in terms of core fan base.”
For now, London will have to settle for watching imported NFL matches. There are currently no plans to give the UK a franchise. Parsons explains:
“There are several steps we need to continue to take before we get to that deeper conversation. We’d like to play more games every year as we move forward…. Once you’ve got a sizeable fan base, the options are then much more available to you to do certain things.”
From a logistics stand point, it would be hard to see players wanting to play for a team in London. Travel to and from home games would be terrible, to name one problem.
One day though, it could be possible. London has every reason to hold out hope for a franchise in the future.
Do you think there will ever be a permanent NFL franchise in London?
[image via Wikimedia Commons]