Over the past decade, the NFL has been toying with the idea of having a franchise in London, and the idea is getting closer to becoming reality, according to Mark Waller, the NFL’s International Executive Vice President. A franchise in London shouldn’t have an impact on NFL odds, but it could be a logistical nightmare for teams that have to travel to London.
Waller told reporters that he could see an NFL team playing multiple games in London during the same season, and added that the NFL will be putting additional games in the London schedule in the near future.
Waller also told the reporters that the NFL is making progress towards having a team relocate to London, and that he has a group working out the logistical issued that may arise from such a move, especially if playoff games have to be played in London.
According to Waller, Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars that was played in London is part of an expanded schedule, and the NFL will be waiting to see the feedback it receives from the Colts, who do not have a bye week after their London trip.
Since the NFL has been playing games in London, the Colts are the first team to play in London and not have a bye week after returning to the United States. In the coming years, the league will add more London games because they want to have teams that haven’t played in London play there at least once.
Waller said the goal is to get as many teams, coaches, and players as possible to go through the London experience. He also said the league added three teams that will go through the experience this year, and the league will like to add new teams every year so people feel more confident about the experience.
It will be up to the owners to ultimately decide if a team relocates t London, but Waller said it is important to the league that as many owners as possible get to experience the London atmosphere.
Due to the increasing number of NFL games played in the United Kingdom, the number of kids playing the game over there has increased, and the viewership numbers for the games have also been increasing.
Waller believes it is possible for a team to play in London at least twice a season, and he is looking for teams to volunteer to play two of their home games in London. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams have already made a long-term commitment to playing games in London, but marquee franchises like the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers have yet to commit to playing in London. If any of those teams decide to play in London, it will attract more fans who are dying for an opportunity to see the best players in the NFL live.
Since the playoff pairings aren’t set until week 17, teams that have to travel to London for the playoffs will have trouble getting their travel plans sorted out because of the short turnaround time. Waller called the playoffs the most complicated matter that needs to be solved, but his team is currently working on making it a reality.