U.K. Vote To Exit EU Removes Hurdle For NFL Expansion In London

Does ‘Brexit’ aid American football expansion?

The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union seemingly removes one of the hurdles for the NFL if the league wants an expansion team in London. I previously outlined four major issues the league would need to address before London could become a reality, one of those being the EU’s policy on the free movement of workers.


LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 22: Fans attend the NFL Fan Rally at Trafalgar Square on October 22, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Certain aspects of the NFL’s governance would violate both U.S. and EU competition laws if it weren’t for collective bargaining between the league and the players. Chief among those are the NFL Draft and other restrictions on player movement such as restricted free agency and the franchise tag.

Although such restrictions are legal under competition laws thanks to collective bargaining, it’s been unclear if the EU would deem them a violation of free movement laws. Freedom of movement and residence for residents of EU countries was a fundamental principle of the Treaty of Maastricht that integrated Europe.

For the NFL, the issue would have been the restrictions placed on European-born players such as Bjoern Werner and Graham Gano. Would mechanisms such as the NFL Draft, restricted free agency and the franchise tag violate free movement laws?

Perhaps now we’ll never know.

Although Prime Minister David Cameron assured citizens that their ability to live and move freely throughout Europe wouldn’t be impaired any time soon, it would seem that any hurdle for the NFL has been significantly reduced. Now the NFL only has to come to terms with the U.K. – not the entire EU – on the issue of its restrictions on workers. And certainly the U.K. has more incentive to pave the way for the NFL than the EU as a whole given that any team added would most certainly be based in London.

The other three issues I previously outlined remain:

  • High rate of taxation in the U.K.
  • Hurdles for working visas
  • The NFL Players Association

There’s no doubt, however, that this move makes any negotiations between the NFL and the U.K. a little easier.

Kristi A. Dosh, Esq. is a sports business analyst, business coach and author of "Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges."