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Volume 10 No. 24


High-level support for an NFL franchise in London "continues to grow" as NFL N.Y. Jets Owner Woody Johnson has "insisted the British capital could get a team before Los Angeles," according to Neil Reynolds of BRIT VIEW NFL. Johnson's comments come "hot on the heels of recent pro-London comments from NFL owners" such as the New England Patriots' Robert Kraft, the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones, the Atlanta Falcons' Arthur Blank and the San Francisco 49ers' John York. Johnson said, "London and Los Angeles are obviously two important places where we have to be. ... With regard to London, it's just a case of finding out if these (growth) trend lines continue -- if they do, London may be first." He stressed that "continued growth and fan support could result in a franchise in London 'sooner rather than later.'" Below is an excerpt from a Q&A in which Johnson discussed the NFL's future in the U.K.

Q: When we look at int'l growth and specifically in London, is that an example of the NFL not resting on its laurels and just concentrating on the domestic game? Is that one of the reasons behind these int'l efforts?
Woody Johnson
: Absolutely. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated on numerous occasions that growing the game and expanding the game is a priority. ... London has always been a good market for American football.

Q: We've seen NFL owners be very positive about the int'l experience. Are you one of those owners who is firmly behind the London plan?
Johnson: I am firmly behind it. We don’t have all of the evidence in -- it’s going to take a few years to see whether the popularity keeps growing. I think it will. ... But I think we still need to figure out whether London can support a team. From every indication, it looks like it can.

Q: Would a London franchise be a recognition of a league that is always looking forward to that next challenge and next achievement?
Johnson: I think you have to. To keep growing the game and exposing different populations to the game, you have to take a look at opportunities as they come up (BRIT VIEW NFL, 7/24).

Though ManU Manager Louis van Gaal's "decisiveness and clarity" have been "liberating" so far, there is "unease bordering on tension in some quarters of the club after his bitter complaints about the rigours of the pre-season tour timetable" in the U.S., according to Ian Herbert of the London INDEPENDENT. Though ManU Exec Vice-Chair Ed Woodward will be "determined to strike a compromise with van Gaal when they speak on the subject, trips such as this are something vastly more than a publicly relations exercise." A "casual walk" around what was effectively a ManU Festival beside the Pasadena Rosebowl "revealed the captive market with money to burn on United merchandise." That's "just the start." The club's four games in the Int'l Champions Cup will net it more than £1M ($1.7M) each, while the sponsors for whom this tour "offers huge potential are paying out very big numbers for the association." One of them, Aon, will have "undertaken 25 engagements, involving 1,700 clients, by the time this tour finishes." By "this time next week" United's bright emblazoned Aon tour team bus will have "moved on to Detroit where locally based Chevrolet," which has paid a record $560M over seven years to have its name on the club's shirt, "will be getting more profile." It is thought that the company "may push United for an Asia tour next year" because that, rather than the domestic U.S. market, "is where United can win them brand awareness and what the marketeers call 'brand preference.'" Bulova, the club's "official timekeeper," would "certainly favour Asia, too." Bulova President Gregory Thumm said, "There is no doubt that growing our market in Asia is the No. 1 objective. China is a very difficult market to break into" (INDEPENDENT, 7/26).