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Would a UK NFL Franchise work?

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There are indications that a UK National American Football League would be a good idea and there is certainly a clamour for it amongst UK NFL fans who have supported the international series over the past few years and with rumours growing stronger each year,Elliott Smith takes a look at whether a UK franchise would work.

It would have a strong following across the country, it would have loyal supporters to its cause and it would be very entertaining. However, when you really think about it. It could be just another bad idea. People would have to commit to games and teams, it would compete with football on a whole, and most British people will choose football over American Football. No one knows how well it will be received but I think that it could be a good idea, but realistically it is likely that it would be bad business.

First, Stadia would be an issue. Whether you take over stadiums or build and that would not be cheap. Players and recruitment could be another issue as well as following and support. Tottenham have announced plans to have a purpose built American Football surface incorporated into their new stadium, though there has been no indications that the International Series will move from Wembley.

A UK version of the NFL could well turn out to be like the MLS. A few high profile names would join the most high profile teams, and we would have a strong but mediocre following compared to that of the other respected sport in the home nations. Recent suggestions have seen the current Jacksonville Jaguars moving across the pond to London with their team’s strong links in the UK and their lack of fan base in the US. The fans would certainly ride on the crest of the gridiron cause in the beginning but questions on its sustainability in the long run remain.

There are indications that there would be quite a good audience for a UK version of the NFL. Since 2006, there has been an increase of over 160% in viewership and there are starting to be more and more NFL games being played at Wembley and on our TV’s. This year’s Superbowl had the highest rating for an NFL game in Britain and was one of the most viewed shows in the US TV History and the most viewed Superbowl ever. This shows that there is the audience there, and that audience does watch in bulk.

I’d love to see a UK version of the NFL, and I think if it lifts off, it could have the same following in Britain that it had in the 1980s but it could also quite easily flop quite dramatically. There are many other sports that have attempted to take football on as the head sport of Britain. You don’t see many American sports rise to the heights that they are in the USA, Basketball and Ice Hockey being the best examples of this. Both of these sports have a UK League, and have a cult following, but none of them can compare to football.

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The bar has always been set in Britain, if you want a sport to be successful, you have to be able to compete with football, and many sports have tried only to be eclipsed by the sport. I think that in a few years, American Football will make its way to Britain, but its success is all dependent on the money that is invested in the new sides. If it doesn’t try to compete with soccer, in the UK, it might have a chance but their is little doubt it has a number of hurdles to reach before it can even be given the same status as soccer over here, with Cricket, Rugby Union plus many more battling it out ahead of American Football.

The Franchises in America are worth hundreds of millions, and in fair to say that in Britain, that is the same with football. American Football may be the only sport that has the money to have a competitive battle with football in Britain. At the minute, all you need to do is ask yourself is, will you watch American Football if it came to Britain, we may have our answer right there.

What UK Team would you support? Tweet @TheSportsLowdown with #UKNFL and give us your opinions.

American League american sports National Football League UK UKNFL

About Elliott Smith


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