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Last month, we saw the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the final game of the NFL season, the Super Bowl. Other than football, the halftime show included Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J Blige, 50 cent and Kendrick Lemar. If you are still not entertained, then there was also a host of comedic and high-budget adverts starring Hollywood’s biggest stars.

After 56 Super Bowls, the event has evolved into a truly impressive affair and is now considered one of the ultimate sporting experiences to attend; if you can afford the minimum $6,600 ticket fee.

The stunning spectacle has managed to capture the attention of British audiences as American football slowly grows in popularity within the UK. The BBC now runs the NFL Show every week, Sky Sports has a single channel dedicated to the NFL and London itself hosts four NFL games per year.

The NFL doesn’t just provide entertainment for the UK. From the four games in our capital city every year, it is predicted London’s economy sees a “direct economic impact of £58 million, with spectator spending nearly doubling this with £41 million”.

The financial benefits of NFL games for the hospitality and tourist industries has also been recognised by other European cities. Munich and Frankfurt have recently announced plans to host NFL games in the near future.

Traditional football fans will also be shocked to learn the impact the NFL has had on British football. For example, the San Francisco 49ers, one of the most established NFL franchises, owns 37% of Leeds United FC.

As American football’s fan base grows and the economic benefits for London become apparent, the opportunity for London to take further advantage of this estimated $15 billion industry is appealing. Coming out of what has been a turbulent and difficult time for the tourist and hospitality industry, it is important we consider the economic benefits of bringing more American football to London.

One man trying to take advantage of Britain’s growing love for American football is Tottenham Hotspur’s owner, Daniel Levy. ‘Spurs’ already have a strong relationship with the NFL, hosting two NFL games every year through a £40 million contract. This relationship was built on Spurs’ recent construction of a new stadium that can ‘transform’ from a traditional football pitch into an American football pitch, which is an impressive marvel of engineering. 

All this has laid the groundwork for Daniel Levy’s bid to host the Super Bowl in 2026 last month. Critics dispute the economic benefits the Super Bowl can bring to a city, but NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, reckons the game delivers an “economic impact of approximately $500 million plus” for the hosting city.

The other option, which is far more ambitious, is for a franchise (NFL team) to move to London. Unlike football teams in the UK who are usually permanently attached to their city or town, NFL franchises can move at will. A good example is the Super Bowl winners, the LA Rams. Until 1945, they were the Cleveland Rams. They then moved to Los Angeles before moving to St Louis in 1995, before returning to Los Angeles in 2015. 

Although most may think a team moving to London is unlikely, one team is seriously considering the move permanently – the Jacksonville Jaguars. The ‘Jags’ are a relatively new team in the NFL, joining in 1995, and have struggled to achieve both financial and on-field success. This, in part, is due to sharing the state of Florida with two much more established franchises, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins, who can squeeze them out of the market. 

At the moment, Jacksonville Jaguars have found in effect a second home in London. They play two of their eight home games in London every year and have continued to try and create a relationship with London’s community.

This relationship reached its crescendo in 2018 when Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham owner, Shahid Khan, made a £100 million bid to buy and move the ‘Jags’ to Wembley Stadium. The bid ultimately fell through, but the groundwork for an NFL team to move to the UK permanently is there. If this did occur, it is predicted that a franchise would contribute “over £150 million to the UK economy when considering the indirect and induced economic impact”.

Daniel Levy’s and Shahid Khan’s efforts to bring American football to London is worth noting and keeping an eye on. Only time will tell whether these men’s plans come to fruition but if they do, the impact on London’s economy could be substantial. After a pandemic that crippled both the tourist and hospitality industries, perhaps American football has the potential to play an important part in London’s economic rejuvenation?

Max is currently Digital and Communications Officer at Bright Blue. Views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue. [Image:]