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A UK team and a London Super Bowl? NFL boss teases big future as game grows in Europe

“It’s not impossible,” was the replay from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell when he was asked whether the Super Bowl could be held in London one day.

Those three words sent waves of excitement flowing throughout the NFL UK community with just the mere prospect of America’s blue riband even crossing the Atlantic.

Admittedly, Goodell was speaking at a fan forum in London, so there was a case of him playing to the home crowd, but he insisted that the prospect had been discussed.

"It is not impossible, and it is something that has been discussed before," Goodell said at the London fan gathering.

"I think that is not out of the question. But at the end of the day, I think right now our formula will stay the same about playing in cities that have franchises.

"Our fans live in those cities also. I think that is important. Not that we do not have great fans here [in the UK], we do. So as the international series develops, maybe that is a possibility as we play more games here." 

As they’ve shown, the fans are definitely there, but just what the American population would make of their biggest sporting event being shipped over to the UK, kicking-off at an earlier time than usual, is another matter.

A London team or European division? 

With the Super Bowl a distant dream at best, for now the theme is “more games” from the NFL, who want to try and spread their popularity as far and wide as possible.

Three games on three straight Sundays and the Jacksonville Jaguars playing back-to-back in London is the NFL’s way of dipping their toes in to sample just how well a London team would go down.

Could the UK and European fanbase sustain a team being based there full-time? What sort of competitive advantage would a team have playing three-game home stands and having opponents fly in from America? 

These are all issues that need to be addressed, but one of those questions has already been answered – in that there’s a huge appetite for NFL from UK fans. Goodell even teased about there being enough fans to support TWO London teams.

"I think there's no question that London could support not just one franchise, I think two franchises, I really believe that," Goodell said at a 2022 UK fan event.

Yes, there’s a theme of Goodell talking big to generate excitement in the UK, but with two games taking place in Germany this year and plans to try and hold some in France and Spain, could a European division be the answer? 

"That's part of what we're doing, right?" said Goodell. "We're trying to see 'could you have multiple locations in Europe where you could have an NFL franchise?', because it would be easier as a division." 

Again, it’s all about logistics, but from that crucial competition standpoint then having multiple teams places in Europe does level the playing field – as the Jags going 2-0 in London showed what an advantage it can be. 

Again though, for now, this looks very much like a long-term ‘possible’ rather than a ‘probable’ next step.


Verdict – What next for NFL expansion? 

While NFL officials were over in London, it became clear that Spain could be the next destination to get a game, possibly in 2024 with the Real Madrid’s spectacular new Santiago Bernabeu seen as the preferred host stadium.

But NFL executive vice president Peter O'Reilly also told Adam Schefter that Brazil has a huge NFL following, saying:  "There's a lot of interest in the NFL. I mean, we saw it. We did a Super Bowl viewing party last year down in Brazil, and it was packed and the energy is there.

"You've got some classic soccer clubs around the world who are really interested in hosting the NFL and building a relationship with the NFL.”

With teams having international market rights deals in certain countries, it makes sense to try and bring those sides to their audiences and build their brands and popularity – creating new die-hard fans in what the NFL is trying to achieve.

The Jaguars organise their own games at Wembley as they try to become ‘London’s team’ and others could try and follow suit in Germany, Spain and Brazil.

That’s what the immediate future looks like – Super Bowls and teams based outside of the USA are nice dreams, but they’re dreams that don’t seem to be happening any time soon.

READ MORE: London-born teenager joining Oklahoma shows NFL Academy is on the rise


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