NFLUK has just announced that for the next three years the St Louis Rams will play in London for one game each season and for the 2012 season it will be the Golden Boy himself Tom Brady and his New England Patriots who will be their opponents.
I must say I think this is a genuine step forward and a step towards seeing if there is a real viability to having a team play permanently in the UK – most likely in London. By having a team committed to playing here for three successive years the league will be able to see if that team gets a following and whether or not the novelty factor will wear off on British fans.
The St Louis Rams have just appointed a new Head Coach in Superbowl winner Jeff Fisher and with owner Stan Kroneke also being the majority shareholder of Arsenal FC it is exciting times for the franchise and the fan base around the world. I’m not sure how the St Louis fans will be taking this news and it would have been wiser for maybe a franchise who really struggle to sell out such as the Jacksonville Jaguars to be the guinea pig but its a start.
The 2012 game with the Patriots is one that will excite the UK fans big time. The Patriots are without a doubt one of the most exciting teams in the game with a sure fire Hall of Fame QB who boasts three rings at the time of writing but that might well be four by the time this game is played. The Pats have been to London befre and the fact they are happy to return shows that they enjoyed the experience, which no doubt other players and owners will notice.
This is without a shadow of a doubt a precursor to a permanent franchise based in London. The big question is whether it’ll be a 33rd team or a current franchise relocated. With the LA market still vacant it is unlikely a new franchise will come to London until after the LA issue is fixed but for Roger Goddell no doubt London is #2 on his wish-list.
Speaking of the commish he has this to say on the announcement, ‘The response to NFL games in the UK among our British fans has been exceptional, We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the UK in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States.’
Sounds to me like him saying, ‘if they are sell-outs and the game continues to grow in the UK then we’re coming there permanently’.
American Football might not be just ‘American’ any more…
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