SBD/October 12, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Owners Vote To Continue Game In U.K., Don't Name Number Of Games Per Year

Owners did not specify the number of games to be played in London each year
NFL owners yesterday approved continuing playing regular-season games in the U.K., though contrary to expectations the league did not specifically approve playing more than one game per year there. Instead, the owners' resolution, according to the NFL, "enables the league to determine the appropriate number of UK games per season, based on the popularity of the sport in the market and the number of teams that volunteer to play as a home team." NFL owners in '06 approved a five-year overseas run beginning in '07, and played one regular-season game a year in London. That resolution expires after the Bears-Buccaneers game in London later this month. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had said last month he hoped to have two games a year in London, but that is not what the new resolution precisely calls for (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). Goodell yesterday said, "Part of the discussion today centred on asking if we should have some consistency among some of the teams going over there. There is a strong feeling that would help build a fan base of particular teams and might be more beneficial in the short term just to try to see can we build the kind of fan base that could potentially warrant a franchise at some point in time. So we may focus a little more on a smaller number of teams going over on a consistent basis, but obviously the visiting teams would rotate. They have to volunteer for it. They have to agree to it. None of this can be forced on any teams." The multiple games could start next year, and Goodell said that the NFL "will use them to test whether a team could really be based in London and play in the league -- although he insisted that would still be some way off" (SKYSPORTS.com, 10/12).

REGULAR GUESTS: ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas wrote under the header, "Could Bucs Be A Regular In London?" Yasinskas noted the resolution "allows teams to 'volunteer' for one home game a year in the U.K.," and this year's game is a home game for the Buccaneers, who also "played a home game there in 2009." Yaskinskas: "The Bucs are about to become the only team to return to London since the NFL started playing regular-season games there. The Bucs already have had a strong fan club in the U.K. for years. The owners of the Bucs (the Glazer family) also own the Manchester United soccer team. ... Plus, a yearly game in London would guarantee the Bucs at least one 'home' sellout a season" (ESPN.com, 10/11).

WE'LL GO, BUT ONLY AS THE VISITORS: Texans Owner Bob McNair said that he "wants the Texans to play in a regular-season game in the United Kingdom but only as the visiting team." But McNair "might change his thinking about giving up a home game if the NFL expands its schedule beyond 16 games." McNair: "I wouldn't completely rule it out if the length of the season changed and we had an extra game or (two). Then that might be something we'd consider" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/12).
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