NFL officials leak word that league could move Chargers to London, or at least threaten to

Man, no sooner do I go and post about rumors that the Jacksonville Jaguars could move to London than The Athletic (paywalled) goes and reports rumors that the Los Angeles Chargers could move to London:

The Athletic has learned through NFL sources that the possibility of the Chargers moving to London has been broached among league personnel. The Athletic also has learned that, while the team is fully committed to Los Angeles where it will move into the new $4.5 billion stadium with the Rams next year, the Chargers would at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option.

Finally, The Athletic has learned that NFL owners are concerned enough about the Chargers’ situation in L.A., where a crowded sports market and the presence of the more established Rams has resulted in a tepid embracement of the Chargers, that they would provide the necessary support for a relocation to London if the Chargers pursue it.

That’s a whole lot of completely anonymously sourced reporting, coming down to: People around the NFL are talking about what if the Chargers moved to London, and the Chargers owners would consider it, as would other NFL owners, given that the Chargers’ situation in L.A. is such a flagrant dumpster fire.

Of course, the problem with anonymously sourced reporting is that you never know what the motivation is of the people hiding behind anonymity — or to put it more bluntly, these people could be lying thanks to an ulterior motive. What could that be? Pretty much anything: Trying to scare Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke into modifying how much cash he wants from Chargers owner Dean Spanos to play in his stadium or into allowing them out of their deal to share digs entirely, trying to scare Chargers fans into buying more tickets to avoid having their team leave the continent entirely, trying to keep alive the London threat even though a full-time NFL team there still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. (It makes sense if you’re the NFL maybe and want some sucker to take a travel hit in order to expand the league’s market, but less so if you’re that sucker.)

Regardless, if some within the NFL are openly (if not so open as to actually give their names) advocating for a London move to be considered, that’s a pretty blunt admission that approving the Chargers’ move from San Diego to L.A. was a complete catastrophe, and at least some league officials are looking for an exit strategy. London might or might not be it, but it certainly seems like somebody is ready to shake something up about the Chargers’ future plans, which can only mean one thing: More future ESPN articles where Jerry Jones talks about people’s balls.


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23 comments on “NFL officials leak word that league could move Chargers to London, or at least threaten to

  1. I’m going to vote for the “complete catastrophe” option here. The NFL will offer up tasty rumors about a team moving to London, all the while trying to figure out how the Chargers should move back to San Diego in a way that saves the most face for the league. Given that San Diego State University is now negotiating to buy the land hosting the former Jack Murphy Stadium, maybe the NFL sees this as a prime opportunity to butt in and alter the plans for a replacement stadium.

        1. Right, the interesting bit isn’t that the rumor emerged; it’s what the motives are of the rumor mongerers.

  2. As a practical matter, where in London would an NFL franchise play? Wembley? Or perhaps in West Ham’s stadium? Would there be an issue with keeping the grass playable with all that extra pressure?

    Or is this expense not even worth fussing over, given the billions at stake?

    1. Tottenham, probably, since they built a whole new slide-away pitch just to allow for stuff like this.

      1. Haha, there you go! Gotta wonder what sort of indemnity they’d have to pay the CFL, Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats for encroaching their territory? A bag of kicking tees, a half-rack of Moosehead and an autographed 8×10 glossy of Chargers P Ty Long, a former B.C. Lion?

        Seriously, the Chargers never should’ve left San Diego in the first place. The stadium there might’ve had some issues but they still drew twice as many fans in SD as they are now. Sometimes the best move really is the one you don’t make, especially when you leave the 8th-largest city in the country with no real competition for the sports entertainment dollar after the Padres are done.

  3. I can’t imagine a franchise moving to London. The tax implications for the players are enough to prevent it from happening. What player would want to move to a nation/city with incredible taxes on income? The cost of living would be prohibitive for support personnel.

    Public safety is an entirely different subject in London.

    I don’t know who/what group the NFL is trying to pressure with this “leak”, but it’s a non-starter from a logistics point of view. Eight teams, 3 would have to go every year for division games, would have to transit the Atlantic. The London team would have 8 games that are at least 5 time zones away. The folks who would be doing that travel would face incredible stresses to their bodies.

    This isn’t happening.

    1. The exchange rate would be a bigger issue than the taxes. 45% tax rate on the highest incomes, which isn’t a while lot different than making a lot of money in a state with state income tax on top of federal income tax.

      1. Indeed. In fact the highest tax bracket in the UK is 45%, whereas the highest federal tax rate is 37% and highest California is 13.3%, so 50.3%. Of course the highest UK rate kicks in at £150,000 whereas California’s highest hits at $1,000,000. So if you are making the league minimum LA is probably more tax advantageous, whereas if you are Phillip Rivers, London would be better from a tax purpose.

        Of course, I believe but am not sure that athletes are taxed in states where they play road games, so half of that would be unaffected I assume. Plus endorsement deals I assume are taxed where they live which may or not be the same as the places they play. But again I’m not sure.

        Actually maybe the unnamed source was a tax accountant. Seems like a win for them.

        1. The jock tax is what you are referring to, players are taxed at the local rate were the game is played both state and local (StL)

  4. I don’t understand what the issue is if a fan base that travels well and has lots of fans locally comes to a home game, tickets get sold, beer gets drunk. Yes the talking heads on tv love to mention it. But Pittsburg money is still green.

    Lack of PSLs sold is an issue.

    1. Yeah, but starting next year they’re going to have to compete with Vegas for those visiting fan trips!

      1. I think the point isn’t so much that fans from Pittsburgh will now have the choice between traveling to LA or Vegas but rather than everyone in LA is from somewhere else and everyone from Pittsburgh now lives somewhere else and as a result plenty of people from Pittsburgh now live in LA. Just because you’re originally from Pittsburgh doesn’t mean you don’t have money–in fact presumably earning more of it was part of why you moved to LA.

        Well that and the weather. Mostly the weather.

  5. Who benefits from this spurious discussion?

    Possibly no-one. But, if anyone, the likely beneficiary is the idiot who put himself and his franchise in this debacle in the first place: Spanos.

    He can’t even play the fake planted story properly. You have to wait a few days to issue a strenuous and profane denial if you want people to take it seriously. If you issue same too soon, we thinketh he doth protest too much.

  6. Would work permits for US citizens be an issue like they are currently for American soccer players?

    1. I would guess the UK would find a way to solve that issue. Unlike soccer they wouldn’t be taking a spot that might normally go to a British player

    2. I am not a Lawyer, but logically speaking, Work permits would likely not be as big an issue as with soccer. Why? Because NFL Players are not taking jobs from Europeans.

  7. The Rams stadium running $2.5 billion over budget just boggles the mind. Imagine how much it would cost if they had the holographic replay system the Bengals dreamed up.

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