In 2016, the St. Louis Rams relocated to Los Angeles, marking the return of NFL football to L.A. for the first time in two decades. One year later, the San Diego Chargers joined the Rams in the City of Angels for the 2017 season.
Since then, the Chargers’ standing in the city has been shaky at best as they compete with the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams for fanfare in an already-concentrated sports market.
On Monday night, an exclusive story from Vicent Bonsignore of The Athletic shed light on the NFL’s willingness to consider London as the next home of the Chargers.
According to Bonsignore, The Athletic learned through its NFL sources that the topic of moving the Chargers out of Los Angeles and into the highly-coveted international market has been raised among league personnel. Support for the idea reportedly reaches as high as the ownership level.
“Finally, The Athletic has learned that NFL owners are concerned enough about the Chargers’ situation in L.A., where a crowded sports market and the presence of the more established Rams has resulted in a tepid embracement of the Chargers, that they would provide the necessary support for a relocation to London if the Chargers pursue it,” Bonsignore writes.
While The Athletic also reports that the team would at least listen if the NFL approached them about the possibility of a relocation to London, Chargers Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board, Dean Spanos, was singing another tune to the publication just this week.
“We are fully committed and focused on Los Angeles and look forward to continuing to build our fanbase as we transition to our new stadium,” Spanos told The Athletic. “We’re seeing progress every day, and we look forward to building on that.”
The NFL’s Efforts in London
The league has hosted games in London in some capacity dating back to the 2007 season when the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium. To date, the NFL’s international presence has grown to feature a four-pack of games in London each season, as well as an annual game in Mexico dating back to 2016.
With more than five million fans in the UK according the NFL research, the London market has long been an intriguing option should the league seriously consider moving one of its current franchises to accommodate the increasing demand and popularity. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have now played seven games in London to date, have also previously been linked to the city.
While the idea of moving a franchise across the pond could be more viable for a team in flux such as the Chargers, there are still significant logistical hurdles the league would need to work out. Among those considerations are scheduling and travel, division realignment, attractiveness to free agents, overall marketing efforts in and out of season, and even future expansion opportunities.
Despite the apparent challenges on all sides, another disruption of the L.A. football market could still be looming.
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