History of NFL in London

The NFL, National Football League, perhaps the most significant American league, held outside of the United States, has a profound and rich history attached to it. It is quite unfortunate for the fans getting to know that NFL London games 2020 are canceled, and all of the NFL games and are taken back in the U.S. Nonetheless, things have been much brighter in the past when the games were held and enjoyed by everyone.

The Birth of NFL London

American Bowl was the primary source that was used to promote the NFL outside of America before 2005, which was a series of preseason games that were played around the world.

The turnaround came in October 2005 when the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers by an astonishing score of 31-14 held in Mexico City, Mexico. This match was the first-ever season of NFL games conducted outside of the U.S. and proved to be a significant success by drawing almost 103,467 spectators, which was the highest game attendance until that time. This enormous success inspired Roger Goodell, the commissioner of NFL, and he discussed the idea for a super bowl to be held in London and to maybe expand the NFL from what it was at that time. Perhaps this was the point in history where the NFL International Series was founded and was the first season of NFL was being scheduled outside of North America. After the success of the first game, everyone was on board for what’s next to come.

British’s Love for NFL

The games proved to be extremely popular as suggested by the sales graph with tickets being sold out in a mere two days. Not only that, but the reports also indicated that out of all people, only 3% were Americans or American expatriates, 22% being from London while 60% elsewhere from Britain. It was clear that Britain fans liked football more than their American friends.

The first-ever game played in London was hosted by Miami Dolphins against New York Giants in Wembley Stadium London. In the year of 2007 October, the New York Giants defeated the Dolphins during the first regular-season outside of North America. The game proved to be an enormous success after the tickets finished off within the first 90 minutes after being on sales. A single game was then held each year in London until the year 2011 and was only regionally available in the U.S as a broadcast.

Initial Struggles

After the four years of Wembley stadium successfully hosting games, finally, in 2012, it was decided the NFL would give a single franchise a multiyear deal at Wembley stadium. The St. Louis Rams initially decided and agreed to play a single game at Wembley Stadium each year for three seasons from 2012 to 2014 but then ended up playing only 2013. On 13th August, 2012, they announced they have opted against playing the other two seasons and didn’t show up.

It was a potential but sad effort by Goodell who had proposed previously the use of specific teams that would be regular in international space to build a loyal fan base for a particular team raising the chances of permanent settling in Great Britain. 

 In October 2011, the NFL owners decided to play NFL games in Great Britain with a few rules regarding the home team and the visitor team, through the year 2016.  At the same time, the NFL bid for Olympic Stadium at Stanford in hopes that it can become a potential home for an NFL team, but this agreement also, sadly, failed.

But in all these escalating bad news, Jacksonville Jaguars decided to replace S.T. Louis Rams and agreed on to play a home game from the years 2013 to 2016 in London. After the fantastic reception from the Britain fans, Jaguars later on in 2015 decided to extend their agreement with Wembley Stadium to the year 2020. Along the way, some heartwarming announcements also made its way that, NFL is working on scheduling a second game in London from 2013 onwards. And in 2012, it was made public that Minnesota Vikings would host Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Jaguars will go on hosting San Francisco 49ers, making it the first-ever season with more than one game in London.

Three games were then planned in the 2014 season to be played in London, with one game being held in the morning and one in the evening. This morning time slot strategy proved to be very successful, and another three games were scheduled for the years 2015 and 2016.

Major Deals Sweeping their Way Across

The Tottenham Hotspur F.C in 2015 announced that they had made a 10-year long deal to host at least two games a year at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium opening in the year 2019. In the same year, the NFL announced that a decision had been made to schedule further games in London through the next ten years. Same that year, it was announced that at least two games per season of NFL would remain to be played in Wembley stadium until the year 2020.

Another deal was announced in November 2015 that the NFL had reached an agreement with England’s Rugby football Union to host season games at Twickenham Stadium from 2016 and onwards, for a total of 3 to 5 games being held for three years as part of the initial agreement.

In 2017, the series with four games being played in London was branded as London games. In 2018 it was announced that London would host in a total of three games, two being at Wembley and one being at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium. However, due to the delay in the stadium’s completion, all three games were played at Wembley.

In 2018, four games were scheduled to play in London, two being hosted by Wembley and the other two by Tottenham Hotspur. The Jaguars were making a return for their seventh consecutive year.

Then in 2019, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons were announced as being home teams for the year 2020. In either London or Mexico.

Current Situation

Unless any further announcement of an extension of the deal is made, 2020 will be the year to say goodbye to Wembley Stadium as it is the final year of Jaguar’s agreement.  On 4th February of this year, it was announced that Jaguars would be playing two games at Wembley stadium. But unfortunately, on 4th May, the NFL announced all the international games of the 2020 season would be moving back to the home stadium due to the worldwide outbreak of Corona. 

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