Could Chargers Relocate To London?

The 2019 four-game London series has come to an end, and it was by all accounts a smashing success. As Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic writes, television ratings and merchandise sales across the pond are on the rise, and the attendance figures and the energy of the crowds during this year’s series show that the UK may be ready to embrace American football on a full-time basis.

For a few years now, we have heard about the possibility of an NFL franchise permanently moving to London, and Bonsignore writes that the possibility of relocating the Chargers to London has been broached among league personnel. Further, Bonsignore says that while the Bolts are fully committed to moving to their brand new $4.5 billion stadium with the Rams in 2020, owner Dean Spanos would at least listen if the NFL wanted to discuss the possibility.

After all, the Chargers have not really been embraced in Los Angeles thanks to a crowded sports market and the presence of the Rams. And while some fans in San Diego have remained dedicated to the club, a large percentage cut ties completely when the team moved to LA, and it’s unknown how many will buy season tickets for the Chargers at their new venue. Per Bonsignore, owners are worried enough about the Chargers’ long-term viability in LA that they would provide necessary support to Spanos should he want to take his club to the UK. That includes transferring the $650MM relocation fee the Chargers still must pay for the LA move to a London relocation, as well as a potential realignment of divisions.

There are plenty of logistical hoops to jump through, but London does offer a legitimate, contemporary venue (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium), as well as the unique opportunity for the Chargers to develop a new, eager fanbase. If Spanos wants it, London could be there for the taking.

Other reporters, however, are skeptical that such a move is plausible. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out that Jaguars owner Shad Khan has secured a right of first refusal with respect to a London relocation, so he has to say he does not plan to take his team to London before anyone else can consider it. Further, Florio’s sources suggest that no one from the league has ever talked to Spanos about moving to London, which leads him to believe that the sources behind Bonsignore’s report are pushing some other agenda (like forcing the Jags to make a decision).

Bonsignore adamantly denied Florio’s speculation (via Twitter), but Jason Cole of Bleacher Report says that no one in the NFL has talked to the Chargers about moving to England (Twitter link). Coles concedes that the topic may have been broached among other league personnel, but his source says that the Bolts are definitely staying in the US.

Either way, it’s an interesting possibility to consider, especially since the NFL seems closer to having a permanent London team than it ever has.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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46 comments on “Could Chargers Relocate To London?

  1. punkindrublik

    There’s an easy solution to this. The owners force Spanos to sell the team to someone with real money, not just on paper, and move the team back to San Diego. San Diego is where the Chargers belong but not with any member of the Spanos family involved!

    • Steven Juris

      If San Diego wants a team then they will need to build a new stadium before the NFL would ever consider allowing a team back into the city.

  2. letmeclearmythroat74

    Please no ….. take the Bengals !!! If Bengals move away it gives me an excuse to be a Browns or Colts fan. I will help the Bengals pack.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Yes, the Brits appreciate a well executed header almost as much as Robert Kraft.

  3. amk3510

    A permanent team in London won’t work. They would have trouble signing free agents and drafted players will pull an Eli. Despite booming sales the players hate the travel as it is but on a full schedule basis? Forget it.

  4. dray16

    this was the NFL’s plan all along, they always wanted a permanent team in London. they now have an excuse to move a team there.

  5. punkindrublik

    There’s a simple solution to this. The owners need to force Spanos to sell the team to someone that has real money, not just on paper, and move the team back to San Diego. The chargers belong in San Diego just not with any member of the Spanos family involved!

    • dray16

      There’s a better chance they end up in London than SD. It’s not going to happen.

    • Phattey

      We need to employ Donald sterlings mistress she’s the only one that can take spanos out

  6. Quentin

    Then you would have to move teams to new divisions.

    Houston to AFC West
    Miami to AFC South
    London to AFC East

    Either way, travel across the Atlantic for the other teams is asking a lot.

    • trident

      I feel like it would make sense for the NFL to invest in a EFC (Euro Football Conf). Eight teams in London, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, etc. Play among themselves during the regular season and have the Super Bowl match between the US teams and the Euro League.
      Like you said, just a logistical headache for teams to travel to Europe for one team. But, yes, I do understand that there is a huge difference in investment dollars to create eight teams instead of one.

      • Max Jackson

        Makes sense over this repetitive urge to create another league in the U.S. Go where there’s a fresh market for the sport (if any).

  7. KCChiefs3485

    The only way I could see a team full time in London is if the schedule is set that the road team travelling to London plays a thursday game, travels after that, is off that week, plays the following sunday and then has their bye week as they return.

    For simple demonstration we will use a basic date example…

    They play a Thursday game 10/1.
    Next game is in London on 10/11.
    Then their bye week so they don’t play again until 10/25

    • Leemitt

      That’s not bad. I wonder if you could also have the London team somehow play four home games in a row, then four games in the states, and so on. Would make their travel easier, and also make it easier to schedule road teams going to London.

      • KCChiefs3485

        I think they could make it work if they wanted to put the time into making the schedule as accommodating as possible.

        The London team having 4 home, 4 road, 4 home, 4 road and then make the schedules for the road teams going to London match how I suggested seems like a reasonable way to do it.

        The only issue I could see happening is once playoffs start. If London hosts a wild card game then the winner of that would have to travel to another city on a shorter week than what would be given during the regular season. If that is understandable the way I said it.

    • kroeg49

      What about the team positioned in London. How does that work out for them. Traveling to a West coast team would be a bear.

  8. goldenmisfit

    Not saying the Chargers are going but I remember just a few years ago on this site NFL insiders supposedly said “there is 0% chance the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas“.

  9. Leemitt

    Despite everyone’s knee-jerk skepticism, leagues have to start expanding internationally at some point. There’s too much money to be made to ignore. Huge fan bases, huge TV money. It’s got to happen.

    • amk3510

      Where, Canada? How are they going to attract players to go these destinations. They can sell gear and make money without teams permanently here.

    • In this case, the skepticism is justified because west coast teams traveling to London have an 11 or so hour flight in each direction. That’s an untenable, unfair, and illogical schedule to keep.

    • Polish Hammer

      Exactly! They care little about our football and we’re not getting players from over there so quit the charade or growing the game globally.

  10. metsie1

    So it’s 2020. Player X is a free agent. He has a choice of cities in North America plus London. Even if he is going to get more money he has several hurdles and issues to clear. He has an extra tax burden/obligation in a foreign country. If he’s married does his wife want to go to the UK. What about his kids? Schools? How about his extended family. Do they like being 5,000 miles from there support system? Don’t say it’s like someone moving within US. It’s not. Many issues besides the obvious travel/scheduling. Not saying it’s impossible but many real issues/questions exist in and out of football.

    • Phattey

      Works pretty well in Toronto , England has better schooling and universities than the United States. Chargers could easily become the Yankees of England if they moved there they got zero competition

  11. mhdunbar99

    Until the Spanos family is surgically removed from the NFL – Chargers will remain toxic and irrelevant anywhere on the planet.

  12. JDGoat

    I’m a Chargers fan living far away from LA and SD so it really doesn’t matter to me where they play. But London would be a disaster. I feel a team playing that far away would be at a huge disadvantage with travel and timezones.

  13. crosseyedlemon

    I think the NFL should schedule a steel cage death match this Sunday between Bonsignore and Florio. It would probably draw more fan interest than the epic battle between the Giants and Jets.

  14. KCChiefs3485

    Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos emphatically shot down a report from The Athletic that his team has been discussed for a possible move to London.

    “It’s total f—— b——-, OK? We’re not going to London,” Spanos told reporters Tuesday. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re playing in Los Angeles. This is our home. This is where I’m planning to be for a long f—— time. Period.”

    • crosseyedlemon

      Roger Goodell to Spanos: “My ultimate goal is to expand beyond Uranus but London is a reasonable starting point”.

  15. crazylarry

    The NFL would be foolish to make that move. Of course they overreact on everything else so it is probably a done deal

  16. al avias phone

    in no way will this work! how with just one team!?.good luck in drafting and free agent period!.that travel would be a freaking killer! it’s approximately 6.5-7 hours flight time just to cross the Atlantic..and what will the players do if they must uproot the whole family and pack em off to London?! hey,nothing against London it’s a pretty cool place to visit but cost of living can be expensive.i think the only way to pull it off would be to create another division of 4 teams that’s located over there that might help with travel and only have to travel to US a few times a year.i traveled back and forth between London Heathrow and Detroit metro for a couple years,it was expensive and a pain in the rear!

  17. Max Jackson

    They’re not moving to London, but it’s an early sign that attendance isn’t to par and they’re probably not going to last in Los Angeles.

  18. desertdawg

    Funny how in the article it says how the fans of the Chargers in San Diego has forgotten about them, forgotten they are gonna be tearing down the stadium which they played, shows they definitely don’t want the Chargers, Spanos or the NFL back.

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