The red-blooded male population of the United Kingdom rejoiced earlier this year when the world’s best way to see cheerleaders announced it was coming back after the lockout. Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears will attempt to be the sideshow to this action in just over a week’s time and if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is to be believed, we could even call the Bucs our own in a few year’s time.
As we approach the game, team owners have approved a resolution that “enables the league to determine the appropriate number of UK games per season, based on the popularity of the sport in the market and the number of teams that volunteer to play as home teams.”
When do we get to start voting for the name of our franchise then?
Before anyone gets too carried away and blows a gridiron-sized load, the league’s expansion until 2016 is realistically to extend the number of games to two. That’s only six short of eight though and NFL VP of International Operations did add that, “As the series evolved, we felt as though having a team return to the UK on a regular basis would certainly increase the fan base for that particular team, which in turn would drive fan growth for the entire league.”
The NFL seeking to expand its product internationally is in line with almost every other professional sports league and the interest in Europe is definitely present. You only have to look at the hike in TV viewing figures for NFL in the UK (90%) and the fact that the British American Football Association has seen three teams join each season since the game came over here.
In terms of the gambling industry, if a franchise were to base itself over here, it might show the league’s anti-gambling proponents that the two can co-exist. Of course it’s true that they can see this as the case with the likes of soccer already. Although if it was their own sport, it’s far more likely they will take notice and realize that it isn’t all just betting and fixing scandals. Online sports betting legislation is another kettle of fish entirely and it’s unlikely there will be any movement in that sense in our lifetimes.
Back to the names then. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sound like the one being groomed for Wembley eight times a season, what about the name though. The Beefeaters? Maybe even the Limeys? Or even the London Cockneys.
London Limeys, Super Bowl Champions 2020 does have a ring to it.