NFL in “talks” to “possibly” bring team to London, say “sources”

Apparently it’s crazy unsourced rumor week in the sports press, because right after the Daily Mirror’s 75,000-seat David Beckham Miami soccer stadium report, Fox Sports jumped in with a claim that the NFL is seriously considering moving the Jacksonville Jaguars to London:

The NFL’€™s International Committee is involved in talks to bring a franchise, perhaps the Jacksonville Jaguars, to London, possibly as soon as 2017, sources told FOXSports.com…

FOXSports.com has learned that the Olympic Stadium is being configured to work for different seating capacities for futbol and football. The retractable seating will enable greater attendance for soccer matches, while football will be significantly less.

So “sources” say there are “talks,” huh? Given that the whole purpose of the NFL International Committee is to have talks about such things, this is hardly surprising. But Is there any sign that these talks are actually close to putting a team (“perhaps the Jaguars”) in Wembley Stadium? (Scroll, scroll.) Nope.

Look, I’ve been one of the first to say that because of the NFL’s unique financial structure — every team in the league is rich from day one thanks to the national TV revenues that are shared among all 32 owners — you could put a team in Kuala Lumpur or on the moon and, so long as you had a lucrative enough stadium lease, make lots of money. And surely the NFL knows that a team in London would help get more lucrative American football TV contracts in the UK, which would help make those rich owners even richer.

But even for a sport that plays once a week, lugging two teams across the ocean, to a time zone offset by five hours from the U.S. east coast and eight hours from California, is hardly a trivial matter. And that “teams can play anywhere” cuts both ways: If you could get them to build a stadium, a team owner could just as easily put an NFL team in the other London and make money on the deal — it might not help the league’s international marketing as much, but that’s not an individual owner’s concern.

Getting the UK’s interest in American football up by alluding to them maybe getting a team, though, that’s the kind of thing that’s right up the NFL’s alley. And it certainly can’t hurt to have U.S. cities fearing that their team will leave for London if they’re unhappy at home. Enough talk like this, and maybe the league won’t need Los Angeles to kick around anymore.


16 comments on “NFL in “talks” to “possibly” bring team to London, say “sources”

  1. If and when there is an NFL team in London, what will be the income tax ramifications for the home and visiting team staffs? For each game played in London, will both the home and visiting participants be taxed at UK rates, which I believe are substantially higher than US rates?

  2. They need to create a new big city threat for relocation because neither the Chargers or Rams are getting big public funds for new stadiums in San Diego and St. Louis. It will be cheaper for them to move to LA and build their own shared stadium like the Jets & Giants than stay in those crappy markets.

    The NFL already set a precedent of not charging relocation fees to teams returning to their previous homes.

    Would you rather pay 80% to 90% of a $1.1 to $1.2 billion stadium or each pay 50% of a $1.5 billion stadium in LA which will raise much higher revenues from luxury suites, PSLs, and naming rights. Rams and Chargers to LA by 2020.

  3. “The NFL already set a precedent”

    No, they have not. They may have at some point, but it doesn’t bind them. The NFL is a private organization. They can do whatever they want, when they want regarding their own members.

    And if you’re referring to the Raiders, the reason they let them (and the Rams) move without fighting/ a fee is that they were scared of being sued for tortious interference for the lost gain in value and revenue from the sweetheart leases and having to pay 3x the damages due to monopolistic practices.

  4. Hey, if we want to be stupid, let’s bring Aussie Rules Football to New York City. Should be an instant success, right?

    This is unbelievably stupid, considering a Canadian team is probably a much more realistic and viable idea than this one.

    I was actually fine with the NBA going to London until I went there and realized no one cared about it. You couldn’t even find NBA Finals news on TV or in the paper. I had to go online.

    I think Goodell is just looking at the potential amount of money to be made and not gauging whether or not people there even care about the sport. London is a soccer city that does not care about American football, the other owners and front office officials need to stop Goodell from going through with this debacle.

  5. @Ty You couldn’t be more wrong.

    The Rams were charged a relocation fee to move to St. Louis the same year the Raiders were not charged a fee to return to Oakland. It had absolutely nothing to do with your ridiculous claim of ” scared of being sued for tortious interference”. That’s just a figment of your imagination that you pulled out of your arse.

    Stop making crap up.

  6. John:

    Never said the Rams weren’t charged a fee, though I can see how you can interpret it this way.

    “The problem, however, was that the Rams didn’t meet the long-standing criterion, in place since 1984, of a team that needed to move for its financial survival. The ensuing vote of 23-1 against the move prompted an immediate threat of legal action by Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon, as well as the threat by the Rams that they would sue the league in the very same way that Al Davis had done a decade earlier[….]In the event, the owners blinked. “The main consideration,” said [Paul] Tagliabue, “was the potential damage exposure of vetoing a deal that guaranteed a team, at least in their view, I think the number was around $900 million over the life of the lease, so arguably the damage exposure is three times $900 million, which is a significant amount of money.”
    From Michael MacCambirdge’s “America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured A Nation”, pp 395. (Not my hind parts)

  7. @Ty You are pulling crap out of your arse.

    The Raiders’ lawsuit had nothing to do with relocation fees, you’re confusing two completely separate issues.

    There was no relocation fee for the Raiders to return to Oakland. That’s a precedent.

  8. John, if you have a citation, let’s see it. Just telling people they’re “pulling crap out of their arse” isn’t helpful.

  9. From what I can tell from a cursory googling, it looks like Tagliabue mumbled something at the time about the Rams being assessed a fee and not the Raiders because the Rams were taking up a potential expansion site, but Oakland would only truly love the Raiders, or something like that. Though most of the analysis at the time was “Don’t ask Al Davis for money, he’ll just sue you.”

    As for precedent, though, I agree with Ty: The NFL gets to make up whatever rules it wants. I suppose another team could sue the NFL on the grounds that the Raiders didn’t pay a relocation fee so they shouldn’t either, but that didn’t work so well for the Rams when they tried it.

  10. John, I’m not saying that the Raiders lawsuit and Rams lawsuit were comingled. What I was saying was that there was a threat of a lawsuit on the STL move and Al Davis would have been right behind if he had been prevented or even hindered from moving, given the outstanding “claim” he had on the Oakland market and his general dispensation to sue for everything up to and including the Carolina Panthers wearing silver pants.

    This was the reason all the 90’s moves took place: The league knew that if they tried to stop or even hinder the two LA teams, Cleveland, and Houston from moving, they were facing pretty clear claims for liquidated damages from the insane leases the new cities were offering that would be trebled. Although, of course, it was a kind of Willy Wonka “Oh no, don’t do that…” rather than any actual despondency.

  11. Found the answer re:Oakland!

    http://economics.mit.edu/files/1380, see page 212.

    Logic only a lawyer could love: The league never approved the Oakland move in the first place. So, the move back was simply realigning the team with what the league wanted. So no fee.

    So, if the Rams were to move back, they’d have no grounds to argue that the same should apply, as they had obtained league approval for their move.

    There is definitely not a precedent, but even if there was, the teams moving the 1980’s would be the only team it could apply to.

  12. We’ve scored more public trough money for our gold-plated billionaire money-printing palaces by “alluding” to things than any class of kleptocratic elites in history. Goddamn we are good at this! We haven’t built a stadium in L.A. or London or Timbuktu for that matter but in the minds of the plebes and bought off politicians, we could move there next week. Suckers.

    Now who’s next to build us a stadium? Or maybe rebuild the one you built us 10 years ago, you poor wretches. Get off the pot and pay up or we’ll MOVE YOUR TEAM! I really should wear a Halloween mask and a cape when I say that, haha. Maybe play some fright music in the background too.

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