NFL in London – Is a Franchise Coming to Wembley Stadium Soon?

The NFL is one of the most exciting and entertaining sporting leagues in the world and millions of people tune in to watch the sport on a weekly basis. Since 2007, at least one regular season fixture has been held at London's Wembley Stadium. As the sport's popularity has grown across the Atlantic, more games have been held in the United Kingdom. This year, there were three regular season matches at Wembley. As of next year, Twickenham Stadium will also host at least three games between 2016 and 2018, while Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium will also host two games a year from 2017.

Wembley Stadium (Photo Courtesy of Wembley Stadium)

Essentially, American football is continuing to grow at an astronomical rate and UK fans are really beginning to buy into the sport. All three of this year's matches were sold out and Wembley has transformed into a second home for the Jacksonville Jaguars in recent years. In fact, the proposed London franchise would potentially replace Jacksonville in the NFL as the Jaguars are currently struggling to attract new fans in America. Down in the Florida area, there are currently three NFL teams - the Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Whilst the Dolphins and Buccaneers have been established for almost half a century, the Jaguars were founded in 1993 and haven't managed to build their fan base.

Wembley Stadium (Photo Courtesy of Wembley Stadium)

In terms of their current roster, Jacksonville has a decent crop of talented, young players. Quarterback Blake Bortles was selected with the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and their signal caller has built an excellent rapport with budding wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. With rookie running back T. J. Yeldon also in the mix, the Jaguars may be set for an era of success in the next few years. At the time of writing, the Jaguars are currently priced at 25/1 with bet365 in the NFL betting markets to win the AFC South this season. Although they may struggle to bounce back from their disappointing 2-6 start to the season, Jacksonville have a number of talented stars and could challenge in the coming years.

Unfortunately for British fans, it doesn't look as though an NFL franchise will be plausible just yet. The NFL are focused on presenting fans across the globe with the opportunity to watch American football but their decision to host regular season fixtures at various venues suggests that a franchise is still quite a way away from being realistic. While hosting a Pro Bowl isn't beyond the realms of possibility, a London side is probably still at least one decade away. There are just too many obstacles that are preventing a UK-based franchise from becoming a reality.

The sport is continuing to develop and American football is now widely regarded as one of the United Kingdom's favourite sports. As the Jaguars continue to develop and improve, interest in the franchise will develop. One of the main problems for the short-term future of a London side is that many fans already support teams. However, there will be plenty of support and followers for a new franchise and it is definitely a possibility in the future. For now, fans will have to be content with more regular season fixtures in the UK and that isn't a bad thing at all.

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