NFL could host game in Germany starting next season, eyeing France and Spain

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LONDON – The NFL returns to London with the Atlanta Falcons facing the New York Jets on Sunday, but the league is just as focused on its next international destination: Germany.

Brett Gosper, head of the NFL UK and Europe, said they were finalizing their list of German cities to host a game starting next season.

The opening of an office in Germany is “reasonably imminent”, he added, as is the hiring of a general manager there as the league expands in Europe, with France and the United Kingdom. Spain also in the crosshairs.

Eight cities in Germany have expressed interest in becoming a partner city to host a regular season game, he said. The NFL announced a bidding process in June.

“We’re going to cut it down to three and hopefully we can announce something in the next week or two,” Gosper told The Associated Press in an interview this week.

The announcement could coincide with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s planned trip to London during the International Series.

After the Falcons took on the Jets on Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars face the Miami Dolphins a week later. Both matches will take place at the stadium of the Premier League football team Tottenham.

Gosper declined to identify likely German finalists, but said bidders could come to London as part of an “observer program” for the Jags-Dolphins match.

“They are in the final offer,” he said. “There is a certain sensitivity on their side especially because they have to go through their own proper decision making. We have made sure that these cities form a consortium, so it will be a partnership between the region, the city, the owner of the stadium – which in most cases is a Bundesliga football club. ”

A regular season game in Germany seems a matter of when, not if, with a decision expected by the end of the year. He said the “only hesitation” on 2022 would be scheduling conflicts with the FIFA World Cup, which begins next November in Qatar.

“If we can resolve them, it could be the 22nd. Certainly no later than the 23rd,” he said.

Proper stadium is the most important factor, followed by ease of movement. Tottenham’s state-of-the-art facility was built to host both football and NFL games with a capacity of 62,850 seats.

The cities of Dortmund, Berlin, Gelsenkirchen and Stuttgart each have one stadium – and Munich has two – capable of hosting at least 60,000 fans, with football club Borussia Dortmund being the largest with just over 81,000.

Sky Sports, which owns the NFL broadcast rights in Britain, previously reported that Munich and Düsseldorf have expressed interest, but not Berlin, due to trade promotion laws.

It’s not just a question of size. Gosper said they are looking for a “deeper relationship than just a once-a-year game,” citing local partnerships and an NFL Academy.

Germany, which has produced more and more athletes for American college football programs, had five teams at various times in the former World League / NFL Europe / NFL Europa.

A league office in Germany is coming up.

“It’s reasonably imminent because we are in the intense phase of finding a GM. Where we decide this will be put in place could depend on where we land on a possible match in Germany.” , said Gosper, the former Australian CEO. of world rugby.

CITY OF LIGHT?

After Germany, NFL analysis has shown France to be the next logical European host.

“It would appear that France is probably the third market in this sense in the analysis we made, followed by Spain,” said Gosper. “The Nordic countries are also very strong, with a smaller population.”

These markets “are currently on a trajectory of strong growth, in terms of audience, in terms of increasing fans,” he said.

LONDON

The NFL played 28 regular season games in London from 2007 to 2019. None were played in the city in 2020 – when four were scheduled – due to the pandemic.

Tottenham has seven years left on Tottenham’s 10-year contract to host two NFL games a year, Gosper said.

Wembley Stadium has also hosted games, most notably those in Jacksonville, as the Jags have built a large fan base in Britain.

“We don’t have full certainty yet, but we are confident the Jags will continue this relationship in the future,” Gosper said. “The number of games, we are not sure at the moment.”

And with an expanded 17-game schedule, as well as the new opportunity for NFL teams to negotiate exclusive marketing deals with cities or regions around the world, there is scope for even more games in London.

Gosper said the NFL is reviewing the marketing plans of teams interested in an “international deployment” and that they may “decide for themselves to host the casual game outside of the (domestic) market.”

Some NFL owners also own Premier League clubs. The Glazer family owns both defending NFL champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United. Stan Kroenke owns the Los Angeles Rams and Arsenal.

“It’s hard to determine at this point whether we’re going back to four, three or five (games),” Gosper said. “It will be determined by the market. But there will be no less than two in the UK and probably more.

The annual question of whether the Jags would move full-time to London has not been discussed, he added.

“We would love for a franchise to come to London someday, obviously, because that will help grow our fan base not only in London but also in Europe, given the proximity. Now it’s all the owners – if it is. ‘is what they would feel they would like to do, then we are ready for that. But it is entirely their call.’ ‘

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