While the term “football” is nothing new in London, the type of football usually seen in the United Kingdom is altogether different than American football. Futbol (known in the United States as soccer) is one of the world’s most popular sports, and that is no different in the U.K. However, over the past few years British sports fans have been learning and loving the American game of football. The two games are dissimilar in nearly every way, one played with goalies and the other end zones and quarterbacks—one played primarily with the feet, where it is against the rules to touch the ball with your hands and the other played primarily with your hands.
This newfound British interest is largely attributed to America’s National Football League (NFL). The NFL has been steadily increasing its presence in the U.K. since 2007. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said of the 2014 season:
“The expansion from two to three NFL regular-season games starting next season has the league exploring how to continue growing its International Series brand.”
The NFL community is abuzz in wake of the announcement to expand its presence in London. Players, owners and team executives alike are excited about the opportunities an international market brings to them individually and collectively.
Goodell briefed the owners that he wants the league to reach $25 billion in revenue by 2027, an amount that would mean adding nearly $1 billion in new revenue on average each year until then.
Not everyone is overjoyed with the prospect of bringing the NFL to London. Many make mention of the logistical issues associated with such an undertaking. For example, the time difference between London and the United States varies depending on where a fan resides. This presents a number of televised scheduling issues, not to mention the fatigue associated with overseas travel for the players and coaches. To remedy this situation the NFL has instituted a “bye week” following the week that the NFL American teams play in London. A “bye week” is simply a week off or week of rest before the next scheduled NFL game.
Undeniably, the love of football has captured the hearts of many fans, not only in the States but worldwide.
Certainly incorporating an additional team from oversees may present its challenges; however, it also has the potential to increase the number of viewers and expand the fan base exponentially.
Although no permanent decisions have been made regarding incorporating London’s team, one thing is certain: the love of the game will continue with or without the expansion.