NFL goes global with all 32 teams that will play abroad between 2022 and 2030, including in Canada and Germany … but what does it mean for the UK and will Wembley miss it?
- The NFL has said that all 32 teams will play outside of the US for an eight-year period
- Wembley has yet to agree a deal to host matches between 2022 and 2030
- The league wants to take the games to Canada and elsewhere in Europe
The NFL has committed that all 32 teams will play abroad at least once from 2022-2030, but there is no deal yet for Wembley to host games.
Tottenham Hotspur signed a 10-year contract in 2018 to play a minimum of two regular season games per year at the purpose-built £ 800 million dual sports stadium.
But the contract to play at Wembley, which has played 23 games since 2007, expired in 2020.
The Jacksonville Jaguars – who played one game per season at Wembley from 2013-19 – were scheduled to play back-to-back games at the national stadium last year as part of a four-game series. But Covid-19 saw the postponement of the NFL’s international ambitions.
The Jacksonville Jaguars played against the Houston Texans at Wembley in 2019
But plans to go global are back on track, with the NFL branching out to Canada, Germany and South America – as well as Mexico, hosting games since 2016.
But what that means for the British market is unclear. NFL media insiders report that there will be two games per year in the UK and two elsewhere in the world.
Chris Halpin, the NFL’s executive vice president and chief strategy and growth officer, said during a conference call: “Four games in London are certainly not off the table.
This is about a recorded inventory of all 32 teams and as we said, volunteer inventory, also by the Jaguars, who have consistently played a game in London for nearly a decade and are committed to the market.
“We are very focused on continuing the momentum and number of games in London over the long term, the fan base is exceptional.”
The Carolina Panthers eased to victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tottenham in 2019
The NFL added that interested teams could sign up to play international home games.
And when he played at Wembley, Halpin added, ‘Our Wembley deal expired after the season. The NFL and the Jaguars have productive talks with Wembley. They were a great partner and an important part of the NFL UK experience. There is no agreement yet, but a productive ongoing dialogue. ‘
And on the long-sought possibility of a UK-based franchise, he added, “ When we look at a franchise, we always say we need a fan base, we need a stadium and we feel good with both. Our job is to do everything we can to make London a franchise-ready NFL market and we feel very good about the position there. So we’re going to keep the momentum with the number of matches and then work through the football element for a long time in terms of having a team there. ‘
Jaguar owner Shahid Khan tried to buy Wembley for £ 600 million in 2018. Rumors about his interest in the stadium persist. When the schedule for the 2020 season – and the Wembley double-header – was announced, Khan said: UK at a time when the NFL’s popularity continues to grow rapidly in Europe and elsewhere outside of the United States. ‘
The NFL’s announcement could mean that the Green Bay Packers, the only NFL team not to play in England, will finally visit these shores.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new 17-game season for 2021
While the NFL is rarely boring, even when the season is six months away, last week was particularly newsworthy.
During the same conference call, usually unattractive Commissioner Roger Goodell said unasked: “We expect to have full stadiums next season.”
Earlier this week, the NFL stamped plans for a 17-game regular season, the first major change to their regular season schedule since 1978.
While the games will be cut from four to three in the preseason, there will be a farewell week and the expansion will see a playoff game on Monday night with a wild card and the Super Bowl moving back a week to the second weekend in February.
Building on the theme of flux, Alistair Kirkwood will step down as NFL UK’s CEO after two decades. Brett Gosper takes over as head of the European operation after nine years as head of World Rugby.
The NFL schedule is scheduled for release in May.