An NFL Team in London? Lord Love a Duck!
The NFL may be decades away -- if ever -- from jumping the shark in the USA, but don't be so certain it would take that long to happen elsewhere.
Namely, in London.
Surely, Pigskin Poobah Roger Goodell and his faithful cabal have done more thorough market research than drooling over the 80,000 cyphers that crowd into Wembly once -- and now twice -- a year and rejoice in all the Ayrtons they represent. Clearly, these leaders must understand that only a dollop of that total comprises actual Londoners. It takes more than an isle; it takes a continent to fill that arena.
The NFL tried for 16 years to append its game to the European sporting scene. At the end, though, it was losing $30million a season, and all but one of the remaining teams were based in Germany. The exception was in the Netherlands. London was nowhere to be found at the end. The Monarchs had long since folded, drawing 6000 fans on a good day.
This ill-conceived NFL operation even attempted trans-Atlantic travel, with disastrous results. What makes Goodell think it's going to be any better this time?
If a true demographic survey was taken of the fans attending the NFL's International Series games in London, the results would show a good number of Germans, a few Dutch, an assortment of American expatriates, and a sprinkling of devotees from the balance of the nearby land masses. These groups all share one basic trait.
They all travel.
Much is made of the logistical issues of NFL teams traversing the Atlantic if a team was based in London. Still, one might think the NFL would give more consideration to its potential fans in this regard. For most of them, attending more than one or two games there will be financially prohibitive. Only the toffs could afford to hold season tickets, and there just aren't enough of them who even know the NFL exists.
There's also a significant portion of English fans who must journey from outside London to watch an NFL game, and frankly, they're already grumbling about how inhospitable the NFL is toward fans in attendance. Don't expect long-haul support from them.
What's more, sports fans in Europe are accustomed to longstanding allegiances to their teams. The concept of a re-located franchise -- such as, say, Jacksonville -- wouldn't assure instant acceptance.
Thus, it's not surprising that the only positive reaction to putting an NFL team in London comes from those who share the same coccoon with Goodell and his sychophants, ie- those who put dosh first. Stadium management and anchor tenants seeking ancillary income are front and center in the quest to nestle in on the money grab. Ironically, the high prices they already charge their own fans is an element in not enough money being left on the table for NFL ticket purchases.
But this is all too obvious. With the knowledge that cash comes first, could it be that London is actually being used by the NFL to corral another city, one that has exponentially more potential pro football fans? Could all this hype be an attempt to extort the monied class in Los Angeles to step up or else?
Frankly, this angle makes more sense. Sure, it's cynical, but when has that ever been a consideration?
The twist is that it seems Angelinos have something in common with their counterparts halfway around the world: they're totally cool with following their favorite teams, which just happen to be existing teams in other cities. The NFL sold out to television long ago, and the LA market has become the inevitable end result of that priority. Its citizens are happier being viewers than attendees.
The NFL isn't as interested in accommodating a new fan base as it is in lighting a fire under those it needs to build a stage for it in the USA's second-largest television market.