British reporter: NFL in England 'has a chance' to work

British reporter: NFL in England 'has a chance' to work
October 28, 2012, 2:30 pm
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LONDON -- My friend Matt Sherry of the Press Association (the UK's answer to the Associated Press) is seated in front of me here in the press box at Wembley Stadium and he and his mates are the target audience for the NFL in it's hamhanded European moneygrab.

I asked Matt if this British Invasion by the NFL is working. I can spit on the idea -- along with most American fans -- but we aren't the market.

Matt is. A 21-year-old from Hartlepool, he's a legit NFL consumer.

"I think it has a chance to work," he opined. "I think they started (coming to London six years ago) at the perfect time because popularity was rising anyway. This hasn't sparked popularity, it was there."

Sherry said the Patriots are the leading team in terms of interest here. Why? It is a bit of a mystery.

"I think it's the three quick Super Bowls and the simple fact it has 'England' in the name," he said. "But I've been wondering that myself."

Sherry says the sport is "still a niche."

Will it rise above that?

"I think me head says it will always be a niche. My heart says it won't. The Premier League dominates. Much like the NFL took over baseball in the States, Premier League is that way here. I don't know if that can change."

Sherry has hard data of the grassroots appeal, though.

"I've got in total about seven friends here today and four of them, six months ago, couldn't have told you anything about the NFL," he pointed out. "And they've probably spent about 200 pounds each to be here. And they are all about my age."

The NFL is into Phase Two of its plan to invade. There will be two London games in 2013 and the Jaguars will play a single game in each of the next four years.

"Next year is the most important," said Sherry. "We'll find out with two games how many are here for the game and not just the event. If one sells and the other doesn't, we'll know."