NFL in London: Putting America's Most Popular Sport in Britain Won't End Well

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: NaVorro Sopoaga #53 of San Francisco 49ers emerge from the players tunnel with team mates before the NFL International Series match between Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on October 31, 2010 in London, England. This is the fourth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

The NFL is without a doubt the most popular sport in America today, but expanding it to include a team in the United Kingdom isn't going to work out like some hope it will. 

The NFL has been holding regular season games in London for a few years now. While the weather was a problem before, the British fans did come out and show great support. 

The British government created an “All-Party Parliamentary Group” for American football, and hope to soon have an NFL team playing in the United Kingdom full-time. 

However, having a UK-based NFL team won't work like the league hopes. That isn't stopping the British from being very excited about the opportunity, all the same. You can't blame them, as the NFL is booming in America right now and the British are looking to cash in on it. 

Richard Fuller, chairman and Member of Parliament for Bedford, made some interesting comments regarding football plans in the United Kingdom. Per

There is strong support for American football within Westminster and a group of us felt that we should get more involved in developing the sport here at both the amateur and professional levels.

We will be working closely with [the British American Football Association], the NFL and other organisations to promote and increase official recognition of American football within the UK sporting landscape. 

We hope to be able to develop participation in the sport at grassroots level, create opportunities for British players to reach their full potential in the sport and support the pathway to having eventually a UK-based NFL team. 

This is obviously a ways off, since a lot of things would have to happen first before the league would give the okay for this. 

The people of London may get excited about one NFL game, but it's not certain they would jump all over one of their own NFL teams. They're hoping that folks would love and support the American football team as much as a world football team.

It's great that the British want to get American football growing overseas and develop programs for British players to excel, but would they really thrive against some of the biggest men in all of sports? 

Another reason this wouldn't work so well is the fact that not every team would be willing to go to London every year. What division would they play in? Relocation would seem to be the likely solution, but which team would really move to London? 

If they were bought out, they wouldn't have much of a choice. However, the whole process would still flop. 

Plus, what American players will want to play football in London? In order for this UK-based NFL team to start and succeed, they will need some American players to start on their team. That won't sit well with some athletes. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Chicago Bears in London this Sunday, and this will be the second time the Bucs play in the United Kingdom. 

I get the idea of wanting to expand the NFL, but one or two games in London is good enough. The NFL doesn't need a team to play overseas full-time.

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