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Will an NFL franchise ever move to London?
SUNDAY saw the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley as London hosted its eighth NFL regular season game.
Having skipped through the 49ers 42-10 demolition of a woeful Jacksonville side in just over an hour, I felt genuinely sorry for the thousands of fans, my brother among them, who forked out upwards of £50 to attend it.
Unlike our version of football, NFL games have a habit of dying a slow and painful death if sides are as miss-matched as they were at Wembley. San Francisco led comfortably after the first quarter and the game was effectively over before half-time, making the rest of the match incredibly dull.
However, I’m sure this won’t put off many of the sport’s growing fan base, who are likely to fill Wembley for all three games that will be played there in the 2014 season.
What started as a one-off has become a regular occurrence, with the number of games played in London gradually increasing.
With Jacksonville currently struggling, their hierarchy have agreed to play a game in London for the next three seasons and there is constant talk that London may one day take over the franchise.
It’s a move I would certainly welcome, but, perhaps strangely, it doesn’t seem to be one currently favoured by the UK’s legion of NFL fans.
The reason for this is possibly because people in this country are more loyal to their sports teams than our cousins the other side of the Atlantic.
While Americans are likely to switch allegiances if a franchise comes to their city, British fans would find it harder to dump the NFL teams they have been supporting for years in favour of the ‘London Jaguars’.
The result could be visiting teams, especially popular ones such as the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, enjoying more support at Wembley than the hosts.
Of course, there are many other reasons why having a franchise in London may not work, with the distance from the west coast of America to the UK chief among them.
However, none of the problems are insurmountable with some clever planning and I would not be surprised if we eventually got an NFL franchise in London.
It all comes down to the money men. If they decide there’s a profit in it, the move could easily happen.
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