Sources: NFL, Chargers Would Consider Relocating Team To London
The "possibility of the Chargers moving to London has been broached" by NFL personnel, according to sources cited by Vincent Bonsignore of THE ATHLETIC. Though the team is "fully committed" to L.A., the Chargers would "at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option." NFL owners are "concerned enough about the Chargers' situation in L.A." that they would "provide the necessary support for a relocation to London if the Chargers pursue it." The Chargers would be moving into a "viable venue -- likely the NFL-ready Tottenham Hotspur Stadium -- that would offer all the perks and monetary benefits necessary to remain financially competitive." The team also would "have the region and market all to themselves to cultivate a fanbase." Should the Chargers "pursue the move, the NFL could help build the team's bridge to London" by transferring the $650M relocation fee it "still must pay for the L.A. move to a London relocation." In making this move, the NFL could "eliminate the continuing problem of the Chargers' awkward fit" in L.A. The Rams have had a "stronger foothold in L.A.," as a "large portion of the fanbase stuck with them during their 21 years in St. Louis." The Chargers had a "fraction of that foundation after spending the previous 56 years in San Diego." With the NFL's "growing concerns about the team's long-term viability in L.A. and the existence of an eager fanbase and established infrastructure in London, there is at least curiosity about a Chargers move to England" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/4).
PUMP THE BRAKES: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote it has "become a given within league circles" that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has "secured a de facto right of first refusal on moving to London." At a "minimum, the Jaguars would need to say that they aren't moving before the Chargers or anyone else would." Before the Chargers could "play in any city except L.A.," Rams Owner Stan Kroenke "would have to agree to let the Chargers out of their 20-year lease" at the new SoFi Stadium. But given the "unprecedented expense of the stadium," it is "highly unlikely that Kroenke would cut the inventory of annual games to be played there from 20 to 10 without significant compensation from someone." A source said that "no one from the league has ever talked" to Chargers Chair Dean Spanos or "any of the Spanos family members about a potential move to London" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 11/4).
SOMETHING NEEDS TO HAPPEN: The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke noted the Chargers' home games in L.A. have been an “embarrassment for the league” and the team. Fans were "never going to embrace them in L.A." There is a "great atmosphere to watch games," but the "fans are all from other teams." The team needs to go to either London or San Diego, because the L.A. experiment is “not working” (“Around the Horn,” ESPN, 11/4). The L.A. Times’ Arash Markazi said the Chargers locally are still seen as San Diego's team, and it “wasn’t like we needed them to move here.” Markazi: “Unless someone can build them a new stadium, they're not going to move.” However, SI's Chris Mannix noted "any team that parachutes into a market" cannot be judged for a generation (“The Rich Eisen Show,” Audience Network, 11/4).