The NFL has repeatedly maintained that having a franchise in London, England is something that remains in the league’s long-term plans. For now, the NFL appears content to increase the number of individual contests played per season in the U.K., but as that schedule expands, the league will get a better idea of whether it’s feasible to play games on consecutive weeks in London stadiums, and how it’ll work to have a team play back-to-back games overseas.
With that in mind, Philadelphia 76ers owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer are hoping to become the owners of the first NFL franchise in London, sources tell Mitch Lawrence of Forbes. According to Lawrence, the owners of the NBA’s last-place team have become major investors in the Crystal Palace Football Club in London to get to know the market and to get a footing in London. Eventually, the duo wants to make a bid to own an NFL expansion team in London.
The idea of getting an expansion team in London is easier said than done. In addition to all the roadblocks the NFL has to work through to determine whether it’s feasible to have one of its franchises play eight home games overseas, it’s not clear if the league is actually interested in expanding. The Jaguars have begun playing one home game per year in London in an attempt to create an overseas fanbase, and if the NFL decides to put a team in London, it may make more sense for Shad Khan‘s franchise – or another club – to relocate, to avoid expanding the league beyond 32 teams.
In any case, Harris and Blitzer seem to be devoting plenty of time, money, and effort to assessing the London market with an eye toward eventually owning an NFL team there. As they shift their focus overseas, their ownership in the NBA’s 76ers may become less of a priority, as Lawrence writes.
“They’re more interested in getting the NFL in London than they are in the NBA,” a source tells Lawrence. “Their No. 1 goal is to get the NFL team in London. They want to flip the Sixers anyway.”
The NFL, of course, is focusing on Los Angeles relocation in the short-term future, so there’s unlikely to be any progress on this situation anytime soon. But it looks like one worth monitoring in the coming years.