Why aren’t the Jaguars in London yet? – Lewis Potts, Wilson’s school
Nine hundred million pounds. That was the sum Jacksonville Jaguar owner Shahid Khan bid for the FA’s Wembley Stadium in April 2018 in a historic effort to change the National Football League forever with the launch of its first London franchise. Although the offer was withdrawn in October of that year, its emergence was surely primarily the result of an inevitable temptation by the NFL to create or relocate a current team to an international base. But why wasn’t that move earlier when the financial benefits to the league are so obvious?
The benefits of expanding into the UK for the NFL brand are numerous. In 2020 Jacksonville was ready to surrender two of its eight home games of the season to London, as the income gap between Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field and London’s Wembley Stadium was staggering – with more than double the matchday income of a London game. Although those games did not take place due to COVID restrictions, the 8 London games the Jaguars have played since 2016 have given the thriving franchise a 4-4 record, a huge improvement on their tragic loss record in recent years Years. What prevents a possible move to London when the stadiums are often empty and there is no winning culture in Jacksonville?
Well, a move for the franchise would not be easy for the organization at first. Despite high sales at Wembley Stadium for previous NFL international games and massive revenue for Sky and Channel 4 that aired them, the idea of a new team in London is not entirely commercially viable. The salary cap for one UK team would need to be raised above the salary caps of the other thirty-one higher tax-rate teams in the UK to incentivize players entering the league (via the NFL draft). that they actually call London home. This already creates massive complications for the thirty-one other franchises, which no doubt would continually disapprove of the additional funding being given to Jacksonville. However, the Jaguars’ problems would not only affect the organization, but also the players and staff. Convincing players, executives and coaches to trade sunny Jacksonville for cold, rainy London would be a tough sell, and the prospect that mostly American players would have no choice but to move to London, possibly leaving friends and family behind for weeks Months would certainly be reason enough to hold the organization back from making this big change.
Perhaps the relocation of the franchise did not go through for logistical reasons. The biggest problem with creating a London NFL franchise has always been the use of a stadium to equip NFL capacity bleachers while allowing multiple uses and not preventing the England team from playing at Wembley on the same weekend, but rather with the new retractable field of the Tottenham Hotspur stadiums, this problem has been fixed. What remains a problem, however, is the undisputed complexity of creating a new NFL schedule for games to be played at home in London, which would result in teams traveling from the states being extremely jet lagged and disadvantaged when playing games as well as planning away games for the ‘London Jaguars’, where the team itself traveled to America with jet lag. In addition to the jet lag teams, all games in London would have to be played on late Sunday evening so that US television audiences could also watch the games 5-8 hours late, which at a similar time, especially on Sunday, coincides heavily with popular television Night Football on Sky, which will always be king in the UK for sport. Leaving Jacksonville behind and leaving hundreds of thousands of Jacksonville fans upset about their team’s move just wouldn’t make sense.
While steps have been taken to ensure that NFL games in London can be played more regularly, namely building a prefabricated NFL stadium in Tottenham and constantly monitoring the growing NFL popularity in the UK (up to 8 million fans invested in 2021), the logistics and the challenges behind the move are both preventing the London franchise from being quite up and running. Perhaps one should keep an eye on the situation as the NFL’s financial and global aspirations would undoubtedly be greatly assisted by the formation of the London Jaguars, but right now it is probably too early to discuss the move in concrete terms.