More than 60,000 supporters packed out the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the clash between the lowly Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets, showing the unwavering fandom for American Football
The NFL rolled into town for the latest instalment of their London Games, following a two-year absence owing to the Coronavirus.
UK fans showed that their appetite for Gridiron remains as strong as ever with a sell-out crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and another sell-out expected for the second game this Sunday. This is despite a variety of factors which could have led to a significant downturn in attendance.
Primarily, the lingering effects of COVID were expected to put off some UK fans from attending this year’s games. Similarly, the number of European fans and supporters travelling from America were expected to be significantly down as many chose either not to travel or were unable to due to restrictions.
The commitment required from UK fans to get to the games in London is also very significant, particularly ones living in other parts of the country.
The cost and logistics are tough especially during some of the difficult economic times we are currently experiencing in this country.
Furthermore, the NFL aren’t exactly sending their best teams.
Prior to Sunday’s kick off, the four teams who they have sent over had a combined record of 3 wins and 13 losses.
To put it into some sort of perspective, it is like the Premier League sending their US audience Norwich versus Burnley one week and then following it up with Southampton against Watford.
Sunday will mark the 30th NFL game played in London and to date there has never been a matchup between two teams who both have a winning record.
Yet UK NFL fans support has never wavered – which begs the question, why has all talk of a London Franchise died down completely?
Usually around this time of year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn are trying to outdo one another on this side of “the pond” as they clamour to show the most support for a UK based franchise.
Over the other side, since the first London game in 2007 the NFL have been committed to a 15-year project cumulating in London having its own team. 2022 as a target has been talked about ever since, so what’s happened? What more is there to prove?
Interest in NFL has shown no signs of stagnating either. Sky’s average audience for live NFL games has grown by 34% and this year’s Super Bowl was the most watched in 30 years.
It has also been reported that 20 million unique individuals in the UK watched some NFL programming last season.
The Coronavirus and Brexit may well provide the required excuses for the NFL to kick the can of a London Franchise further down the road.
However, UK NFL fans have shown again, regardless of circumstance, their commitment to the sport they love remains – and that commitment deserves to be matched sooner rather than later.