St Louis Rams have signed a deal that sees them residents at London’s Wembley Stadium for the next three years. The deal was announced earlier today by the National Football League (NFL) and first up at the Rams’ “home”: will be the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on Sunday October 28. This will be followed by a game in 2013 and 2014 with all three kicking off at 5pm local time (1pm ET).
“The response to NFL games in the UK among our British fans has been exceptional,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the UK in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States.”
The deal is a particularly interesting one as Stan Kroenke, owner of the Rams, is majority shareholder of Arsenal FC and it’s likely to be part of a push to make both brands more recognizable on a global basis. From the time when the International Series began the sport has grown in the UK on a huge scale and since 2010 TV ratings for Sky Sports NFL coverage have gone up 30% with figures across all TV platforms up 18% on the year before.
Football decamping to Europe for a week every year gives the NFL a chance to touch down in a territory that doesn’t share their blinkered view on the gaming industry. The UK is jurisdiction that has a rich sports betting culture and it’s something that the NFL and US could learn a lot from a regulatory regime that is amongst the best in the world.
The NFL also confirmed there wouldn’t be a second game in the UK but didn’t rule out one in continental Europe.