SBD/October 19, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Expanding NFL International Series On Hold Until League Finds Success In London

Bears-Buccaneers will be fifth game in NFL International Series in London
As the Buccaneers and Bears prepare to play in London Sunday for the fifth game in the NFL International Series, the “next big steps -- expanding past the U.K. and, at some point, finding a way to put a team in Europe permanently -- aren't close to happening,” according to Albert Breer of NFL.com. NFL VP/International Chris Parsons said, "It's definitely working. All the metrics point to that. From a total international perspective, we've doubled our international business. That's incredibly positive." But when asked about having a team in London, Parsons said, "We're certainly not putting a timeline on having a team there.” He added, “We're focusing the revolution on the U.K." Breer noted here is “where you stop.” On one hand, Parsons said "it's definitely working." On the other, he added it "has to work" in London for the league to grow further. Parsons: "We want to play more than one game a season there, that's an important success criteria for us. We want to establish that we can build fans for a team that goes over there and participates. Right now, we've had great growth, but we need to keep moving toward being a top five sport in the U.K. That's our ambition. That's what we have to prove we can do." Parsons “hopes the next step is building loyalty and pockets of followings with individual clubs.” Germany would appear to be “next in line to get a game.” Parsons: "Germany is an attractive market, we have a residual fan base from NFL Europe, and they like the game, which is demonstrated by their support. When you look at merchandising and Game Pass (Sunday Ticket, in essence, overseas) sales, you see we do well in Germany. But we're not looking elsewhere now. We want to get right what we're doing in one market" (NFL.com, 10/17). Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, Rick Stroud notes the Buccaneers are in London for their game against the Bears Sunday and the team was “visiting British schoolchildren and taking in the sights with crews from Sky Sports and Fox television.” Players yesterday visited the Harris Academy South Norwood in southern London “to teach American football drills” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/19).
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