As the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings get set to do battle from Wembley Stadium this Sunday in London, talks have again heated up in regards to a permanent NFL team in London. We hear this talk every year, but as time moves on, it seems more and more likely to become a reality. For the first time ever, the NFL will play two games across the pond in 2013.
It’s one thing to hear fans and analysts speculate about a team residing in the UK, but it’s another when a Wembley Stadium official gives his two cents on the matter. Here’s what Roger Maslin, the stadium’s managing director, had to say about the possibility of an NFL team permanently relocating to London:
“Football (soccer) is our priority. But, yes, I’m absolutely confident that if Roger Goodell wanted to have franchise here then we could absolutely do it.”
In addition, NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood also said that “it’s possible that it could be done before the end of the decade.” He also revealed that negotiations are ongoing to increase the the number of NFL games played in London to three, by next season.
Of course there’s always a catch. In this case, it’s not really a catch as much as it is a harsh reality. Kirkwood said that the league would need to triple its fan base in the UK before international expansion becomes a real possibility. As much as football is growing, it’s still not something that most fans overseas care about. It’s an American game, through and through. But on the flip side, barely anyone was projecting the league would be playing multiple games in London back in 2005.
I still don’t like the idea of a London team. I’m okay with playing a couple of games at Wembley each year, because it is good for the brand. But to have one team that far away from the rest, just doesn’t make sense. Until the people of London demand it, I’m not buying international expansion.