Will the NFL grant London its very own team franchise?

Since 2007 London has regularly hosted NFL games at Wembley Stadium and Twickenham Stadium, although arguably the most successful was the duel between Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars in October 2018, attracting a bumper crowd of 85,870 American football fans at Wembley.

To date, that remains the highest attendance for an NFL game in the United Kingdom.

Following the completion of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, two games have already been hosted there in 2019.

The first was a 24-21 win for the Oakland Raiders against the Chicago Bears, while the second was a 37-26 triumph for the Carolina Panthers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with attendances over 60,000 at both games.

Interestingly, 2018 was also a year of significant changes in the sporting scene for both Jacksonville and Philadelphia, albeit for contrasting business reasons.

Billionaire investor and Fulham FC owner Shahid Khan is based in London, which has led to his Jaguars NFL team becoming one of the most frequent visitors to the city.

Having owned the NFL franchise since 2012, they have played seven games here over recent years.

This has inevitably led to constant rumours and talk, amidst suggestions that Khan is looking to relocate the Jaguars to London on a permanent basis.

Understandably, this has brought criticism from Jaguars fan groups in Jacksonville. Khan has denied such intentions, despite proposals to establish a dedicated London base with training facilities, located near to Wembley Stadium.

Meanwhile, in the city of Philadelphia and state of Pennsylvania sports betting is now fully legal.

Shortly after the Eagles were playing in London, state gambling legislation was changed.

Compared to online betting in the UK, which has been hugely popular since the 1990s, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) imposed a federal ban on sports betting across the US, with Nevada the only exception.

Nevertheless, after the state of New Jersey successfully challenged for the repeal of PASPA in 2018, numerous states including Pennsylvania have now made online sports betting legal.

For a detailed explanation of the sweeping changes this brought to the American sports betting scene, you can read more at the sports news site

As to how sports betting can influence the arrival of more NFL games in London, and perhaps even bring a franchise to the British capital, mostly this is based around the huge growth in popularity of American football here.

Fans of gridiron are wagering more on games, watching on TV in increased numbers, and just as importantly, have been filling Wembley almost to capacity whenever games have been hosted there.

What all of this indicates is that there’s a strong market for the NFL in Britain, and particularly in London.

Although Fulham FC owner Shahid Khan has often said that leaving Jacksonville is out of the question, it’s no secret that he will be an important figure in bringing an NFL team to London on a permanent basis.

Whether this ends up being the Jaguars remains to be seen, although the NFL does appear to be serious about considering a London franchise.

While that would present all manner of interesting logistical challenges, it would nevertheless be exciting for fans of the NFL in the UK, who could get a team of their very own to support.

Feature image courtesy of Pixabay with thanks

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