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From Rugby to American Football: A Sporting Transition in the UK 

You probably didn’t expect to see American football in the United Kingdom. However, this is now  a reality. Some NFL matches take place near the British capital, gradually increasing the degree of local involvement in the sport. 

For this reason, many fans collect van hire in Lewisham to travel to Wembley or Tottenham Hotspur stadiums, where the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, and other famous teams play. Yes, it’s a wonderful idea to use a van car hire in London Lewisham. You can gather your friends and hit the road whenever you want. Plus, multiple Lewisham van hire services, such as an additional driver or prepaid fuel, ensure a smooth trip. 

However, before you set off, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with the amazing history of the sporting transition. Let’s take a look at the main stages in the formation of the popularity of American football in the UK and how it replaced the well-known rugby.

How did it all start?

While European football is making only tentative attempts to play official matches in other parts of the world, and UEFA is considering holding the Champions League final in China or the USA, their colleagues from American football are already expanding the geography of their matches. The NFL founded the International Series back in 2007, with one regular season game played outside the United States. Still, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played their regular season game in 2005 in Mexico City, before the series was founded. This was the first NFL game played overseas. 

The NFL made ambitious plans for expansion into foreign markets and even proposed introducing a 17th match of the regular season to play in other countries. However, the players’ union opposed this and, as a result, the management abandoned this idea. The league decided to play only one game outside the United States.

First NFL game in London

As the world’s most expensive sports league, the NFL has chosen an appropriate venue for its away games – the legendary Wembley Stadium in London. The first regular season NFL game was played at this stadium in 2007. The pioneers were the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. The game caused a huge stir. The first 40 thousand tickets were sold in the first 90 minutes of sale. At the same time, Americans, according to the NFL, bought only 3% of tickets. Londoners purchased just 22% of tickets, while residents of the rest of Britain got 60% of tickets. The remaining 15% went into the hands of other foreigners. After such success, the league management announced the NFL would come to London every year. 

In October 2011, the league management signed a contract until 2016, and subsequently, this agreement was extended until 2025. At the same time, Wembley became the home stadium for the NFL team. It was originally supposed to be the St. Louis Rams (now the Los Angeles Rams), but they only played one game in 2012 before refusing to play home games in London. The Jacksonville Jaguars later took over and played their first game at Wembley in 2013.

British American football expansion 

Quite quickly, the NFL decided that just one game in London was not enough. Therefore, in 2013 their number was increased to two, in 2014 to three, and later to four. At the same time, Wembley is no longer enough for the NFL. The league tried to reach an agreement with the Olympic Stadium in London but failed. However, a holy place is never empty, and starting next year, NFL games debuted at the new Tottenham stadium. The Spurs even specifically decided to make a retractable field at their stadium just for American football games. The NFL’s partnership with Tottenham runs until at least 2027. 

The NFL has also played games at Twickenham Stadium in South London since 2016. This stadium is owned by the English Rugby Federation and they have given permission to the NFL to play their games there for the coming years.

Establishing partnerships with local teams 

Having entered England, the NFL decided to establish cooperation with local Premier League clubs. As a result, several partnership agreements appeared at once. These sister clubs include the Los Angeles Rams and Arsenal, as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United. At the same time, Arsenal is most actively working with the overseas league, constantly helping to promote and advertise NFL games both in London and beyond. For example, before the 51st Super Bowl, the Gunners tried on protective frames and tried themselves as quarterbacks.

What about future plans? 

The success of the matches in London even made the leadership of the American Football League think about creating a permanent team in the British capital. At the same time, they are considering both the option of creating a team from scratch and moving an existing collective to London. Candidates include the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Tentatively, the league plans to create a team in the near future. 

Having already expanded the number of games and stadiums in London, the NFL plans to expand the number of countries covered as well. Specifically, the league is considering hosting its games at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, and Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. The league is also thinking about holding games in Ireland (where, by the way, the NCAA college football league already plays), Germany, China (where games have already been cancelled in 2007 and 2009), Australia, as well as Canada, where the Buffalo Bills played their home games from 2008 to 2013.

What do we have as a result? 

Despite the mad love of the British for football, the NFL was able to successfully penetrate the English sports market and win fans there. Therefore, in the near future, the UK American football scene will gain new names and even greater popularity. As for now, you can go to

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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