Blogs & Opinion

Franchise fears: Alex Ferguson suspects a UK-based NFL team wouldn't work

Alex Ferguson Posted 29th October 2012 view comments

The NFL had its latest adventure in London on Sunday night at a packed Wembley Stadium with the New England Patriots thrashing the St Louis Rams 45-7.

One of the conversations amongst the loyal fanbase - as there always seems to be when the NFL circus comes to town - was about the possibility of there being an NFL team in London.

Sky Sports' Alex Ferguson weighs in on the issue...

Wembley pre-game show: would a London team make it less of an event?

Wembley pre-game show: would a London team make it less of an event?

On the Saturday before his team played in London, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the huddled masses at the NFL Fanfest: "I think London has shown, with the way they've handled the Olympics and every other major sporting event, that it's time for you to have your own NFL franchise, based in London."

This set the tongues wagging. Because a major power player in the NFL had said it - and backed by the UK's success at the Olympics - people began to think: "Hey, the UK could have a team".

In the months before Kraft's comments, there had been more good news for London. The Pittsburgh Steelers - one of the NFL's biggest teams - were going to come to London in 2013 for a second NFL game, playing the Minnesota Vikings on the road.

And also, the Jacksonville Jaguars said that they would be London's 'home team' for the next three years, in an effort to build a fanbase and pack the houses.

But that doesn't mean that there should be a NFL team in London.

The Jacksonville Jaguars may have talked up the reasons why they wanted three straight years of London exposure as an opportunity to 'brand build', but there's another reason: the only time Jacksonville fills its stadium is when either there's a Super Bowl, or if Florida's playing Georgia (as they did on Saturday) in one of college football's biggest games (it's dubbed the 'World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party').

In 2012, the Jags rank 20th in attendance as a percentage of the filled stadium and 21st in average attendance. While at Wembley, a sell-out crowd at the game guarantees more money - as well as that vaunted international exposure. Minnesota's by the way, rank 27th and 28th on that list.

My thesis as to why Robert Kraft wants his team to be the 'designated away team' every year is two-fold: He can build the Patriots brand internationally, and he also doesn't have to give up a home game.

As he once told Sky Sports at the Super Bowl when we met him, the Patriots are unlikely to do that anyway, considering Foxboro sells out week in, week out and the season ticket waiting list is absolutely monstrous. In fact, any 'big' side that comes to our shores would want to come as the 'away' team, so they don't have to give up the home game.

What we noticed about the event at Wembley - and having the NFL over once a year is still a special occasion - is that the International Series event in London is the Super Bowl for a lot of UK fans - it's the chance to see a NFL match on their doorstep and it's something to get excited about?

Would there be the interest (or the wish to pay high ticket prices?) if there was a team in London? We think not. We think that a NFL franchise - which would probably struggle in its first four to five years (see the Houston Texans for example, who are really only coming good now) - would only play to a half-full stadiums. You can't schedule big teams every week to play over here, and the magic would soon wear off.

Plus, as a NFL fan, I would much prefer to see the NFL set up shop (again) in Los Angeles rather than London. LA is a city that is absolutely dying to have a team back, after the Raiders and Rams left town. And as LA is one of the country's biggest cities, it's stupid that one doesn't exist.

And as a NFL fan, I'm much happier if London has one game a year, rather than eight.

What do you think?

back to top

Other Blogs:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....


Jamie Redknapp

Redknapp: No chance for Liverpool

Jamie Redknapp says Liverpool can't realistically hope to win the Premier League this season....

Jeff Stelling

Jeff: Resting players is costly

Why are clubs resting their stars in crucial games? It's costing them three points, says Jeff Stelling....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....


Jamie Carragher

Carragher: Which Blues are best?

Jamie Carragher reveals which Man City wizard and which Chelsea talisman he would have in his team....

Stuart Barnes

Boks clever

Smart play from South Africa wasn't enough to beat a resilient New Zealand, says Stuart Barnes....

Barrie vs Terry

Barrie v Terry

Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor go head-to-head with their Super League play-off predictions......

Phil Clarke

A Super finish

Phil Clarke picks his most improved player of the Super League XIX season, but do you agree?...

Barrie vs Terry

Barrie v Terry

Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor go head-to-head with their Super League predictions......

Rob Lee

In a decent State

Europe are Ryder Cup favourites, says Rob Lee, but Team USA have plenty of reasons to be optimistic....

Richard Boxall

Wild boys

Richard Boxall says Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup picks bring Gleneagles nous, experience and passion....

Alex Hammond

Alex Hammond Blog

Alex Hammond looks ahead to another big weekend of racing...

Alex Hammond

Hear the Music!

Alex Hammond looks ahead to the weekend's racing including the feature Betfred Sprint Cup....

Alex Hammond

Look to the Future

Alex Hammond on a fantastic week at York and picks three best bets for this weekend, including Godolphin's Future Empire...

Neal Foulds

Selby steel

New world champion Mark Selby's the master of match play, says Neal Foulds - but what's next for Ronnie?...


Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....


Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....


Kelvin Tatum

Back on track

Lakeside can make it two wins over Belle Vue Aces in four days, says Kelvin Tatum, but it'll be close!...


Kelvin Tatum

Hit the road

Swindon are struggling this season but will fancy their chances at Birmingham, says Kelvin Tatum....


Kelvin Tatum

Racing away

Belle Vue are unbeaten at home but Kelvin Tatum asks if they can transfer that form at Swindon....


Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......


Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....


Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....


Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...


Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....


Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....