Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, wishes to buy Wembley Stadium. This is seen by many as a major step in moving the Jags to London; an admirable goal which isn’t as crazy as initial thoughts would have you believe. They have built up a large fan base in Britain and due to the size of the United States NFL teams already have to fly to many away games. He also owns Fulham Football Club, but he’s not going to move the team from Craven Cottage because A, it’s not in Fulham, and B, they’d never fill it.
I presumed The Queen owned Wembley, the same way she owns Canada and all the swans. I don’t think Wembley should be sold, placed in private hands or be home to an NFL team.
IT’S FOOTBALL, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT
Don’t get me wrong; I love watching the NFL in London, but it’s nothing like watching it in America. We can do the game fine but we fall short on the tailgate. There just isn’t enough spare real estate around Wembley; it’s all industrial estates and railway lines.
NFL UK are a fantastic organization. They know the issues so have morphed the tailgate into food trucks and entertainment. It’s not that British fans aren’t trusted to entertain ourselves, more that we prefer local pubs and don’t own Chevy Silverados. Also, I don’t know how many readers have been to a London parking lot; they don’t give you any space between the spaces which, similarly, aren’t very spacious.
WALKING IN A WEMBLEY WONDERLAND
Walking down Wembley Way, surrounded by an army of NFL jerseys is a special feeling. The atmosphere on the bleachers is wonderfully British; we don’t scream and yell at the pitch, rather we enthusiastically applaud. However, the home team is rarely the more popular, most fans just want to see a close game (not too close because OT risks missing the last train home) and the scoreboards show games that won’t be starting for hours.
If the Jaguars are to move to London then Mr Khan is better suited throwing his cash at a new stadium with the space to cater to a full NFL experience. Fans come from all over the UK to watch the international series. You won’t find 90,000 people paying to watch Blake Bortles every other week, no matter how entertaining Jalen Ramsey is. The current NFL UK format works because of rarity and spectacle, if we’re going to have our own team the venue needs to be designed accordingly. Wembley is the home of English soccer and long may she remain that way.