NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

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NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby undertherobe » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:50 pm

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog on why a London franchise wouldn't work https://www.olbg.com/blogs/post.php?id=407516.

Two year's later and the NFL's International Series shows no sign of slowing down. We've had divisional matchups and back to back games and still they continue to attract sold out crowds.

2017 sees another test for a potential London franchise with 4 games, none of which particularly appeal at first glance.

So the question is, do you think a London franchise would work as a viable long term option and would you support the London team with many of us already having an affiliation with a current NFL franchise?

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby Jim Brown » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:32 pm

I think it's safe to say that it's no longer a case of 'if' rather than 'when' there's a London franchise. The UK government is keen, the NFL is keen and, if attendance is to be believed, the UK people want it too.

But, as you ask, would it work? It's become almost accepted here in the US that it's going to be the Jaguars who make the move, but do the fans here actually want the Jaguars, or will they simply adopt the team if they move here. Also how does it actually work? Are all the players, coaches, and staff - and not to mention families - going to relocate to the UK and live here? That's a huge undertaking. Or do they just move temporarily for the duration of a season then return 'home' to the US.

So much to consider!

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby titans choice » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:55 pm

And surely if you had 2 road games would it be worth while flying back to the uk would it not be better just staying in the USA and it might be ok for a team to do that flying once a year but would all that flying not affect the players by the end of the season the Jaguars are bad enough as it is without playing most of their games jet lagged.

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby titans choice » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:59 pm

And should a miracle happen and they make a superbowl could enough english fans afford to fly over to support the team or would you end up with 10% Jags fans if it is them and 90% the other team.

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby toadie21 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:54 pm

I'm not sure I would want a uk franchise but I personally would embrace a UK Team and would adopt them as my own team. I am already getting abit of a soft spot for the Jags.
However I would imagine that many wouldn't and have built too strong of a bond with their team in the US and would see the UK franchise as a chance to see their team.
It would also be interesting to see how the bond with the team and fans work, would we in time see footy style chants?
How the logistics would work Im not sure. Titans made a good point of the constant jet lag.

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby DannyCraig » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:17 pm

I guess the one thing not factored in so far is cost.

With 4 games this coming year, it will be interesting to see whether season ticket sales are up.

Most NFL fans in the uk are willing to pay for a handful of games as this is the only chance they get, but would they be willing to pay for 8 games a year (including travel to/from London).

How many people go to games solely to say they have watched a game over here?

How many go when it's only their team who are playing.

For me, I'd go and I'd support the London based team at first. 2/3 years down the line of losing every game & my feelings may change somewhat.

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby Gman84 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:41 pm

Good topic.

I'd say no and I also think the talk of it eventually happening is a bit "pushed" - with the NFL being as quilty as anyone. There's far more to consider than just will people in this country buy it, I don't think that's the biggest doubt although there are issues around it that I'll go back to in a bit.

Just start with the franchise itself:
1, How does it work as a business? The NFL is a "company" that pools its profits but once expanding out of just the US this has business impacts (also consider we are going through "Brexit" at present). I'm not clued up enough about business rules but I assume that any London franchise would still operate as a US business.
2, How would players be taxed? Again, I assume they would be officially US based but that means they can only spend so long in the country. Would it be unattractive for free agents and rookies to go to the London franchise? Being able to fill it with home grown players is not an option.
3, Sell out 8 games? Possible at first and the neutrals would still go but you would become more reliant on the local area (London and the south east) but many UK fans already have their loyalities. I'm not giving up 30+ years of supporting the Redskins to support the London Jaguars or the like. What happens if the franchise struggles and fans stop coming?
4, How it is now is perfect, 4 games a year, different teams, different locations. However, as a big NFL I would still only go occasionally because of the cost involved. I went in October to see the Redskins - Bengals and travelling down from Liverpool to London, hotels, tickets, travel costs, food/drink for me and the wife was close on £600 (admittedly I paid for good tickets but wanted really good seats to enjoy the experience). I can't afford that four times a year, let alone eight!

I would be interested to here from people who do actually favour it and why.
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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby ARQ007 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:54 pm

It's the question every NFL fan has been asking for a few years, isn't it? I think we all would like at least 4 games here in the UK, and to get any more we realistically have to have a franchise to force opposing teams to make the trip - the only incentive (other than for the Jags, who's biggest 'home' attendance for the past few years has been at Wembley!) for other teams to come here has been strong-arm tactics from the NFL who have stipulated that if teams want to host a SuperBowl (the big money-maker) they have to give up a regular season home game to play here. I would support a team based here, in so much as I would go to two or three home games, depending on who was playing here (as others have said, attending any more is a cost issue although I'm sure there are many who would be able to afford season tickets) and they would be my "second team". But I am, and always will be (for my sins!) a 49ers fan. The enterprise is viable - look at the travel involved in leagues like the NBA and NHL and the travel required to have a team here for just 8 games is actually not that big a deal. If the 2017 games sell-out I suspect the NFL will add one more game next year (when I think the hosting of game(s) at the new Spurs ground comes online?) and if they sell out then a franchise is on its way I think. Re: the point about a UK franchise fans attending a SuperBowl, lets not forget how difficult SuperBowl tickets are to come by and then add the fact that you often see UK fans attending now, and the number of ex-pats abroad who would cheer on 'their' team...

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby lazarus76 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:16 pm

Personally I don't think it would work and I'm certainly not about to jump ship and become a Jags fan just because they move to London.

1) There are too many logistical issues to sort out, the schedule would have to have to be tweaked as you couldn't have the Jags playing at "home" then away and then at "home" again in consecutive weeks.

2) I'm certain Wembley wouldn't entertain eight NFL games per season as well so where would "home" be? I don't see the Jags forking out for a new stadium in the London area.

3) The tax issue would also be a factor, I don't see many NFL players being happy paying 50% tax

4) The current set-up works as the casual UK NFL fan is happy to go and watch 1/2 or maybe all 4 of the games with a season ticket (cheapest one would be about £200), but constantly watching the Jags is enough to turn off the die hard fan let alone the casual one. Anyone that has been to any of the Wembley games will tell you there are many more fans of the other teams rather than Jags.

5) For me keep it as it is, I have been to four of the Wembley games in the last few years (once to see you know who) and have been thoroughly impressed with the games and the occasion but I don't see it continuing to work if it's just the Jags every game.
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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby gingerzola » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:29 am

It should not happen imo. There are far too many problems logistically and personally for the players too for a start.

There are also plenty of big market US cities without an NFL team that absolutely should be ahead of London. The ties to Tottenham were a poor and unnecessary idea too imo as it ostracises a portion of support who will not buy tickets to watch matches at Spurs due to their rival 'soccer' affiliation.

I'd also hate for a franchise to come over here but be a letdown if familiarity/poor play, or whatever else diluted interest and needed to be moved back eventually. That'd be an awful look imo.

I'm a Cowboys fan and always will be, no chance I'd ever consider switching allegiances. If Dallas came over, I'd go, but beyond that I'd have no real interest in going as I'd be watching the Cowboys at home.

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby Jim Brown » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:02 pm

Just to respond to the tax question (since that's now my area of expertise in the US), there does exist a tax-treaty between the UK and the US, chiefly to ensure that tax is paid somewhere. The top tax bracket in the US is 39.6% at present and NFL players certainly fall into that category. The top in the UK is apparently 45%, for earnings over £150,000. What happens for anyone working overseas would depend on if they were classed as 'resident' in the UK or not - which was partly the reason behind one of my initial points about players moving over here. So would they live here, or just work here 'temporarily'? There's tax implications for either setup, and essentially for the amounts of money earned by the NFL players they would normally have to pay tax twice. Once in the UK and additionally in the US. The threshold for overseas earnings where you only pay tax in the country of work and be exempt from tax in the US is far lower than the amounts of high-earners. That's not to say that some deal might not be worked out with the IRS and the Inland Revenue to cover taxation. Such is the global influence of the NFL.

So no, it's not just the aspect of playing in the UK that has to be worked out - there's so many other factors. In particular the frequency of home/away games, as pointed out earlier. Great point. Currently it's about a five hour flight from one side of the US to the other. From the east coast to the US to the UK is six hours (seven going from UK to US), and add another three to four hours for other areas in the US. That's a lot of travel and a lot of jet-lag, even if they do get to sleep on the planes.

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Re: NFL Discussion: Would a London franchise work and would you support a London team?

Postby tomdouglas » Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:45 pm

Whichever team made London it's home would be considered my adopted team and I'd be cheering them on, however I'm a fan of the game first, and I'm also not in any position to become a season ticket holder.
The Jags are doing a reasonable team building job, and they look the most likely to be the team turning up unless the NFL plans to create another franchise. Too many problems there to discuss in a hypothetical vein.
Whichever team arrives will almost surely need to have a base in the states, possibly even it's main base. It is possible that the NFL might examine it's scheduling, and we could see the London team playing home games in blocks of two or three games (or more). From a practicality point of view that works well enough, but whether fans will turn out, even those who can afford to, on successive weeks would be an unknown. For staff and players this is going to be really hard, and the novelty of travelling to and fro' will soon wear thin.
The earlier televised game experiment, as we saw this season, might well be an additional revenue option, although Sky might not be keen, and the NFL has never approved of clashing with Saturday's college games. Perhaps there will be a tender put out to broadcasters to cover "London" home games, a not uninteresting scenario, even on a pay per view option, although that is less likely to raise the profile of the game in the U.K..

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