Now three years ago, I made my iconic video
‘Can the NFL work in London’. If you didn’t watch it, I’ll leave the
link in the description below, but it basically outlined that whilst the NFL is commercially
viable here in England, and if an NFL team were to be put there it would be financially
successful, the chances of a franchise moving to London are still slim and none.
Whilst my video caused a little controversy and numerous haters running their mouths off,
I was largely correct. There are just too many obstacles they needed
to overcome and that the NFL wouldn’t be coming to London anytime soon.
But boy what a difference three years makes. Because with every passing day – it’s
looking more likely that the Jaguars will be moving to London permanently. And let me
tell you why. 1) Wembley Stadium.
Previously, I mentioned that the England National Team would have final say over whether an
NFL team could play there due to the fact that the English Football Association technically
owns the stadium. Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jaguars – has
just offered to buy Wembley Stadium for £900 million – an offer that the English FA might
not be in a position to refuse. Especially on a building that is quickly depreciating.
This is huge, because if this happens – there will be no restrictions as to when the Jaguars
could play there, and the England National team would have absolutely no say whatsoever,
because they no longer own the stadium. They’d just be another paying tenant … if Shahid
Khan lets them. Now you could hypothesise that he wants to
turn Fulham Football Club into some kind of super-club, but this is false because Fulham
can’t even sell out 26,000 seats at Craven Cottage, let alone the 90,000 of Wembley.
Besides, Fulham are shit. Let’s face it, he’s lining up Wembley
for the Jaguars. Speaking of which. 2) New White Hart Lane Stadium.
Three years ago, nobody knew that Tottenham Hotspur were planning on updating their stadium,
and certainly not one that can fit an NFL field on it. But as it happens – they’ve
done just that. New White Hart Lane is currently under construction with a retractable field
to potentially lure an NFL franchise to play their permanently. So if Shahid Khan doesn’t
buy Wembley – he has a very good plan B. 3) Brainwashing.
Making the Jags play in London every year is intentional, both from a business and fan
standpoint. It’s not just about the amount of money they make (which is a lot), it’s
not just about selling out the stadium (which they never do in Jacksonville), it’s about
brainwashing the British public. The Jaguars are the only NFL team to have an official
UK fan club, a permanent UK base and are the only team that have heavily marketed to the
British public, even though they play in Florida. They’re pretty much everywhere.
If you’re trying to attract new fans – it helps to be the only team that people have
heard of. The road has been paved for British fans to
welcome the Jaguars to London should they move here permanently.
Certainly helps that they’ve been blowing out jet lagged teams on this side of the pond
recently. 4) It’s the new Plan A
Los Angeles, the NFL’s preferred city for relocation three years ago now has not just
one, but two NFL teams. Fuck you Spanos. Las Vegas also has a team – and the three cities
that are left behind can’t get new stadiums. This realistically leaves a few places left
in North America that could support an NFL Franchise and none of them have expressed
any interest in doing so. This leaves London as pretty much the only
option left. And the team that’s in most need of a new start in a new city (apart from
those shitty Browns) is the Jaguars. Coincidence? I think not.
5) The Vegas Golden Knights. Wait, what does a hockey team have to do with
the NFL in London? Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last year – the Golden
Knights are the brand new hockey team based out of Las Vegas, Nevada.
A city with absolutely NO history of any professional sports team and very limited exposure to hockey
in general. But not only have they survived, they have become a runaway success – the
people of Vegas love them and (unlike my beloved Maple Leafs), they’re still in the playoffs.
They have been a whirlwind success in a city who didn’t know who they were or what sport
they played just over a year ago. London is infinitely bigger and they already know who
the Jaguars are. My point is that questions pertaining to whether London would attract
fans to the games would be moot, because if they play their cards right, there’s no
reason why London can’t create the same fervent support just like the Golden Knights.
6) The Toronto Wolfpack. Who?!?! Okay bear with me on this one.
The Toronto Wolfpack formed last year as a professional Rugby League team … and they
play here – in the Kingstone Press Championship … in England.
Yes, the Toronto Wolfpack – the Toronto – Wolfpack – is the first transatlantic
professional sports team. People said that it couldn’t be done.
People said that it was stupid setting up a team playing a sport that Canadians have
never heard of, in a city that isn’t short on professional teams, against well-established
English Rugby clubss. People said that this would be a complete
disaster. But no …
… Toronto kicked the crap out of everyone. They lost only one game all season on the
way to the League 1 title and they’re doing the same in the championship this season.
It’s only a matter of time before they reach the Super League – the top tier league in
England. Not bad for a team that only started playing last year.
How do they do it? I hear you ask? Well, they play 3 to 4 games away from home,
being based in Manchester when they’re in England before flying back to Toronto and
spending 3 to 4 weeks there, and playing opposing teams flying in from Europe.
Not only have they proved that a transatlantic team is possible, they’ve also shown that
they can remain competitive doing so. The Jaguars could be based in London for 3
to 4 weeks, and then use Jacksonville as a base for 3 to 4 weeks when they go on a road
trip. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some
issues. The players and staff moving to a different country, raising the salary cap
for just one team, different laws, customs problems, pissing off the Jacksonville faithful
… actually nobody cares about those guys. There’s still a long way to go before we
see the London Jaguars take to the field, but it’s a damn sight closer than it was
three years ago when I made that first video. Personally, I’d want them to resurrect the
London Monarchs name – I thought their image was cool and they had a pretty sweet logo.
But realistically they’ll keep the Jaguars name because … point 3.
If you have found this video entertaining or informative, please comment rate share
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appreciated. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Like the video
and fire your comments below. Ninh Ly – www.ninh.co.uk – @NinhLyUK