Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Wants to See NFL Franchise in London

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, attends the match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia during Day Thirteen of the 2011 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Robert Kraft's Patriots hail from New England, but apparently the NFL owner is a big fan of the motherland as well. During a promotional tour in London, Kraft said that he would like to see the league put a franchise in London at some point during the next decade, according to Neil Reynolds of Sky Sports.

Kraft's Patriots played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium in 2009 as the road team and received tremendous support from the fans. It's difficult to say whether or not that has anything to do with Kraft's desire to see an NFL team in jolly old England, but he had plenty to say on the matter:

I think we're starting to tap out in the United States. If you look at the last Super Bowl we were in this past season, we had over 180 million people watching—that's almost two thirds of America. So for us to grow the game, we have to expand globally. Having seen the kind of support we have received here in London, it is the intention of the NFL owners to get two games here, starting next year.

While Kraft's comments regarding the growth of the game make sense, putting a team in London isn't logical in the least. Playing two games in England per season would be fine, particularly if they involve teams with weaker home attendance, but it doesn't seem as though Kraft realizes how much that type of venture would turn the league upside down.

I'm sure attendance and support would be great for a team in London, but it wouldn't be fair to the other teams.

The travel schedule would be absolutely brutal, and it would ultimately harm the quality of the football that is being played. As an owner, Kraft is likely looking at this solely from a financial point of view, but the diehard fans want to see the game played at the highest possible level and could care less about revenue.

People are fans of the National Football League, and putting a team in London would make it decidedly international. Absolutely everything would revolve around the London franchise, as travel schedules would have to be specially tailored to that one team. All teams deserve to be on an even playing field, but putting a franchise so far away would ruin everything.

Perhaps Kraft truly wants a team in London and thinks it would be good for the league, but I believe that a lot of Kraft's comments had to do with him wanting to appease the audience he was addressing. If he said that a London franchise was a terrible idea, then he would have come off looking like the bad guy.

He decided to make it sound like a great idea instead, even though it really isn't.

The easiest way to look at this situation is to think about whether the English Premier League would ever put a soccer franchise in the United States. The comparison is fair because a soccer-crazy nation like England would be putting a club in a country that likes soccer but doesn't have a great appreciation for it. The same can be said about the NFL possibly putting a team in London.

I don't believe there is any circumstance under which the EPL would put a team in the United States, so the United States doesn't need to put a football team in England. It isn't a matter of each league not respecting its foreign fans, because I'm sure they do, but doing something so drastic would change the landscape of each league, and it simply isn't necessary.


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