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How the UK has embraced American football
With a total league revenue of over 13.5 billion US dollars, the National Football League (NFL) dominates the US sports landscape. Around 70% of respondents consider themselves a fan of the NFL. It’s a lot like the UK’s love for football.
With its popularity spanning from high-school level, through college, to the NFL, American football is of massive interest. Americans love the world of touchdowns, tailgates, and end zones. Despite its deep American affiliation - the clue’s in the name - American football is becoming more and more popular here in the UK. Let’s figure out why.
The league itself has made conscious efforts to broaden interest outside the U.S. Since 2007, we’ve had the NFL London Games. Held at Wembley and various other nearby stadiums, these games easily found a market. Attracting American football fans from around the country, independent of specific team alliances, there are now four games held per season.
This was a successful move because it allowed any already existing UK fans to feel included in the NFL excitement. Rather than having to stream online or watch the few games shown on TV, they get to experience the atmosphere in-person. It’s easier to feel more involved when the game is right on your doorstep! UK fans can even buy season passes which get them into all of the UK games.
Alongside the games, the NFL put on tailgates and fan zones similar to the ones they do in America. Not only is the NFL looking to sell the sport, but the atmosphere and culture that goes along with it.
Tottenham’s ten-year deal to host two games a year is a sign of the NFL’s commitment to its UK fanbase. The stadium has even gone so far as to craft a custom American football field that has been engineered to cover Tottenham’s own pitch.
Commitment to the game
Even when watching games at home, UK fans are still committed. Time differences between here and the US might mean fans have to stay up until the early hours of the morning, but it’s worth it. Despite the inconvenient timing, it’s not stopping us watching - viewing figures here in the UK are up 40% year-on-year.
More American football societies and clubs are popping up at universities across the country. So we’re not just watching it; we’re playing it too! Amateur American football clubs are making more of an appearance in the UK. See if you can find one close to you here. There are even programmes like the NFL Academy, which gives aspiring athletes the chance to train their skills while studying a course at Barnet and Southgate College.
With more of the UK population playing football, it may only be a matter of time before the UK gets its own franchise.
Potential for UK franchise
NFL research reports there being over 13 million fans in the UK. This, alongside the increase of people playing the sport, makes it likely a UK franchise could pop up over the coming years. There have already been talks of the Jacksonville Jaguars owner Sahid Khan, who is also the owner of Fulham F.C. in the UK, bringing the team over permanently. Speaking of the Jacksonville Jaguars, in another push for American football in the UK, the Jaguars Playing Academy takes place at Brunel University this July!
With American football becoming more popular in the UK, the country seems to have fully embraced the sport. Whether it’s because of the NFL’s own tactical expansion plans or an increased interest in playing the sport, a UK franchise could be just around the corner.
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