The NFL's slate of London games came to a close last Sunday when the Texans played the Jaguars. The NFL remains a huge draw in the UK and Ireland, and after the fixture, the usual talk resurfaced as to whether the UK, and by association Ireland and the rest of Europe, will ever get an NFL franchise.
Those conversations have taken an interesting turn this week.
For the last few years, all the talk of an NFL franchise in London has centred on the Jacksonville Jaguars. There are a few reasons for this. Jaguars owner Shad Khan also own Fulham. The Jaguars play in the unsexy market of Jacksonville and they've been playing a game in the UK annually since 2013.
But that conversation has shifted. There was an interesting report from the beat reporter for the LA Chargers on the Athletic Monday claiming that the Chargers would at least consider the option of a move to the UK.
London has done everything possible to show the #NFL it’s prepared to be the permanent home for a team. The league, and the Los Angeles #Chargers, are willing to consider the U.K. as a viable new home. My exclusive for @TheAthletic https://t.co/rHiF2zavIb
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) November 5, 2019
The two main nuggets from Bonsignore's report are 1) 'the possibility of the Chargers moving to London has been broached among league personnel' and 2) that the 'Chargers would at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option'.
In other words, we're a long way off but conversations about the move are taking place.
The Chargers have essentially been homeless in LA for the past two seasons after uprooting from San Diego. The NFL plan to have the Chargers share a stadium with the also recently-relocated LA Rams next season. But it's still unclear if LA is a two-team NFL city. Chargers games at the LA Galaxy ground are home games for the away teams and it could be years and years before the Chargers to attract any real support.
In the mean time, the potential of the UK market remains tantalising for the NFL, even if the logistics are maddening.
That said, Chargers owner Dean Spanos was foul-mouthed and clear-voiced while speaking to ESPN in denying the mooted move yesterday.
"It's total f---ing bulls---," Spanos said. "We're not going to London. We're not going anywhere. We're playing in Los Angeles. This is our home, and this is where we are planning to be for a long f---ing time. Period."
That seems pretty clear! But as long as the empty seats remain at Chargers games, the possibility will remain that they'll make the move to the UK.
Chargers source just got back to be after a few hours:
Source says there's truth to London report but it's much more complicated. Kroenke and other NFL owners want Spanos to leave LA. He has no one left on his side after three years and no progress.
— Ryan Phillips (@RumorsandRants) November 5, 2019