The NFL is invading London this week for its annual visit, prompting the usual chatter about eventually moving a franchise across the pond.
While the Steelers and Vikings get set to duke it out inside Wembley Stadium on Sunday, there has been some talk from the higher-ups about the building being the base stadium for a team as early as 2020, according to the Telegraph.
Roger Maslin, managing director of Wembley Stadium, sounded optimistic and even hopeful when asked about the possibility of a franchise moving to London in the near future.
“Football [meaning soccer] is our priority,” Maslin said. “But, yes, I’m absolutely confident that if Roger Goodell wanted to have franchise here then we could absolutely do it.”
The UK already has plans to host two NFL games this season. Following the Steelers-Vikings tilt this weekend, the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers will visit Wembley for a game on Oct. 27. This is the first year the NFL is playing two games in England, but the league are already in talks to host as many as three games in 2014, according to NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood.
Kirkwood seems pretty optimistic about the likelihood of getting a franchise settled soon, too, saying “it’s possible that it could be done before the end of the decade.”
Before the NFL would be able to set up shop across the pond, though, it will need to work on beefing up its fan base. One condition of such a move would be “tripling” the current fan base, according to Kirkwood, which could take more than seven years to accomplish.
A NFL team in London isn’t inevitable at this point, but the idea certainly seems to be gaining more traction with each successful trip.