NFL U.K. Managing Dir Alistair Kirkwood said that the sport's global expansion plans are "slowly ticking all the right boxes," and American football could be "one step closer" to putting a franchise in London, according to Mark Pangallo of REUTERS. Kirkwood and his NFL U.K. staff have helped turn the sport's Int'l Series, which began in '07, into "a roaring success" that sells out Wembley Stadium each year. Kirkwood: "What this now does is allow us to test if we can bring in more new fans and boost a single team recognition. Once that period has come up we will then have learnt an awful lot about it and know what the viability for us going forward is and then be in a great position to make a call (on a London franchise)." The annual NFL game in London has "boosted the NFL's profile across Europe." The inaugural game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins injected an estimated £23M ($36.7M) into London's economy. According to NFL U.K. there are 2 million British fans and TV ratings for American football games shown on Sundays have increased by 154% since '07 (REUTERS, 8/23).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Scottish Football Association CEO Stewart Regan has revealed that league reconstruction is "still being planned for next season," and could propel Rangers FC to the second tier of Scottish football "a year ahead of schedule," according to Brian Marjoribanks of the London DAILY MAIL. Regan began to revitalize the professional game on Thursday when a working group, featuring representatives from the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League and headed by an independent chair, began "devising a new structure." The exact model is "yet to be determined," but the starting point for discussions will be proposals for a "16-team Premier League, with two divisions below." That would give Rangers "a quicker route back to the top flight should they navigate their way out of the Third Division as expected." The plan, which included playoffs and a fairer distribution of income among the leagues, was "overwhelmingly rejected" 25-5 by SFL clubs last month. Regan insisted, however, that a new league system will "ideally" be in place by the start of the '13-14 season. Regan: "The SPL and the SFL will take new proposals back to their respective members, and it will require a 75% vote from the SFL and an 11-1 vote by the SPL to vote change through." Meanwhile, Regan would not say whether Rangers Owner Charles Green will face fresh disciplinary action following his latest outburst toward the SFA, in which "he accused them of persecuting the club" (DAILY MAIL, 8/22).
The Australian Rugby League Commission "has moved to ensure there will be no repeat" of Sydney Roosters' player Anthony Minichiello's controversial clearance at the National Rugby League judiciary. Minichiello was cleared of a striking charge on Wednesday night after his defense counsel successfully argued his action was neither reckless nor intentional. As a result, the commission advised the match review committee to err on the side of caution in subsequent cases and use a dangerous contact charge (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/24).
SHUT OUT: The Rugby Football Union has announced that it is unable to sanction the participation of Rugby Lions in the RFU leagues in the '12-13 season. The club has been unable to meet criteria set by the RFU a month ago by the official deadline, and will therefore play no part in the leagues in this coming season. National League Two South will continue with 15 clubs (RFU).