That’s how many the NFL will be giving London next year. Two games at Wembley and two games in Tottenham’s new stadium.
That’s half an NFL schedule, so you have to wonder with sports betting becoming as legal over here as sports betting is in the UK, and the networks loving the fact the NFL is on from 9 am, Eastern time to midnight on Sundays, you have to wonder what is stopping the NFL from expanding to England.
Well, even though there’s just eight home games, there are a number of logistical problems for the NFL to put a football team in London. First and foremost is the travel. For East Coast teams, there should be no problems, because a flight to London is about the same as one to the West Coast. But what happens when a West Coast team has to play over there, and will there be three game road trips for the London teams?
And even if you get around that by putting bye weeks in front of London games that have to travel more than six time zones, there are issues like tax rates, currency exchange rates and players who just don’t want to live over there. There may be issues with draft picks that won’t want to play over there and will sit out or demand trades if they are drafted by UK based teams.
That’s why there isn’t a real push to move the Jacksonville Jaguars over to London. With the NFL putting two teams in Las Angeles and one soon to be in Las Vegas, London as become the leverage city. Jags owner Shad Khan has tried to buy Wembley Stadium and generally has two of the home games in London, so if any team will move it will be them.
But the problem is who else goes. Much like the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Las Angeles in 1957, who had to bring the New York Giants to San Francisco, London doesn’t need just one team, but another UK based team to help this move. That means expansion will need to be on the table.
Now, the NFL owners would live the probable $1 billion expansion fee for each team, but you may wonder if the talent pool is diluted enough to put another 106 jobs out there and, in all honesty,, the NFL probably needs four Western European based teams to have a full division over there which would limit the US road games to five and visa versa.
It’s eventually going to happen. The NFL wants that type of expansion, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Right now, London NFL fans will enjoy the four games they will get with mainly the Jaguars playing the home team, especially when the new stadium in Las Angeles opens up and the Rams and Chargers have a world class home.
However, the more popular the NFL becomes in London, the more this topic will come up and isn’t going to go away. It’s something the league will have to address sooner, rather than later.