Permanent residence? Fans vote on potential NFL franchise in London

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Typically awash in Spurs white, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium turned into a rainbow sea of ​​jerseys as the Atlanta Falcons beat the New York Jets last week, before the Jacksonville Jaguars failed. score a spectacular last-second victory to beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Now in their 14th year of hosting since the first International Series match at Wembley Stadium in 2007, London has long been touted as a potential residence for a non-American first franchise – either through the relocation of an established franchise or as a new expansion team.

Today’s victorious home team, the Jaguars – whose owner Shahid Khan invested a stake in London as owner of Fulham football club – have pledged to play one away game per year in as a designated “home” team and was subsequently named as the most likely to step across the Atlantic.

Ultimately, the decision will be with the powers that be, but no one with a ticket to the London Games over the past two weekends can doubt the size of the UK’s appetite for the NFL.

But what do British football fans think of a potential London franchise? CNN Sport has spoken to fans to find out.

A general view during the NFL London game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
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Pain planning

Logistics, logistics, logistics – there was a recurring theme in the responses.

“For new fans – maybe. For current fans – absolutely not,” said Cleveland Browns fan Tom Middleton, when asked about the prospect of a franchise in London.

“Logistically, I don’t see that being feasible due to the constant travel and having to pack millions of dollars worth of equipment on one week’s notice. One game a year in London or Mexico for four to six shifts a year is worthwhile work to do, just for exposure.

“Surely a London team would need to visit the US and UK every two weeks? Their fan base could be missing at both ends – US fans are unlikely to start supporting a new team, not to mention a British team, and many British fans already have allegiances or lack an interest in the sport.

“In my opinion, forming an NFL team will be more difficult than any other sport. You already have 53 ‘first team’ rosters, but add the need for practice teams, qualified and experienced coaches., facilities – this is a huge demand. “

Again this week, the NFL reiterated its stance on promoting its global appeal, announcing that it was in talks with three German cities – Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich – about hosting regular season games.

“I really want this to be a good idea, but there are logistical issues,” Andrew Gamble, founder of NBA and NFL podcast The British Playbook, said outside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“I think the support is promising, but I’m worried whether the novelty will wear off, especially since a London side wouldn’t be competitive the first few seasons – even with compensatory draft picks,” said he added.

Fans arrive ahead of the NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Allegiances

English sports fans are known for their unconditional loyalty to their teams – an unconditional allegiance that is no better exemplified than through Gamble and Middleton, two ‘enduring’ Arsenal fans.

A glance around Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and its range of technicolor jerseys this weekend would suggest that many British fans have already sworn their loyalty to the NFL; would a new “local” team encourage them to change sides?

“Absolutely not,” Middleton said.

“I’m fully invested in the Browns and their players – I can’t imagine the idea of ​​a new team wanting me to change my allegiance from the last 4-5 years of involvement in the sport.

“I feel like my commitment to the NFL team is only slightly weaker than my allegiance to Arsenal, which I have supported my entire life.

“However, I would say the idea of ​​an NFL team in London reminds me of Red Bull Leipzig in the Bundesliga – their training generated an incredible amount of reaction and disgust, but now you are watching their games with full participation and they have clearly built up a fan base from their success.

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“Whether or not a team from London can replicate that in the NFL will be interesting. “

Gamble was more welcoming, but also said he would never turn away from his first love.

“I would absolutely support a London team, I would get a membership, the jobs – but if they play against the Patriots I know who I’m backing,” he said.

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