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Post 28 May 2015, 11:22 am

They recruited free agents and got involved in the draft (presumably with a lot of favourable picks in their first season). They almost all did very badly for several years though. It didn't matter because they could never be relegated, and over time if they keep getting high draft picks they eventually become competitive.
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Post 28 May 2015, 11:53 am

GMTom wrote:But in the UK you have so many clubs all in relative close proximity to one another. In the States we have (mostly) well defined and very unique markets that do not overlap. While it's no big problem for one NYC team to be lost or even possibly a northeast corridor team to be relegated, losing say Denver causes a huge hole a a big part of the nation without any team to follow (and nobody will follow a relegated now minor league team). It's about advertising dollars and hitting the biggest markets. The NFL lost it's teams in Los Angeles and has been trying and trying to get another team back (and looks to be a near done deal now) it's about the money, follow the trail of money and it's easy to know what works. Relegation, while fun for many fans, would not work on this side of the pond. I do agree it would be damn near fascinating to follow, no doubt about it, but I also know it simply can not work here.


This is a very good point. The great plains and the mountain region would be a major problem.

Again, I don't think this is workable at all for the NFL. The game is too violent and requires too much size and speed to be more widespread at a professional level.

However, I do think basketball, baseball, and (egads!) soccer would work. It would take some imagination, some means of bootstrapping teams getting promoted, etc. The vast, open land in the midsection of the country might mean relegating and promoting might need to be some kind of regional thing. I don't know.

But, I don't think it's impossible. As an example of what is possible in sports, look at the Green Bay Packers. Who owns them and where do they play? In a pure business model, it makes no sense at all.
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Post 28 May 2015, 12:41 pm

Sassenach wrote:They recruited free agents and got involved in the draft (presumably with a lot of favourable picks in their first season). They almost all did very badly for several years though. It didn't matter because they could never be relegated, and over time if they keep getting high draft picks they eventually become competitive.
Actually I found it: they had a special draft - every other NFL team had to make available 6 players and the teams picked a squad out of them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995_NFL_Expansion_Draft - before then getting the first picks in the normal draft.

But the 1995 draftees did not do badly after their first seasons at all:

The Jaguars were bottom of their division in the first season, but were not the worst team in the AFC (That was the NY Jets). The Panthers were above the NO Saints in their division, and also had a better record than the Giants, Redskins and Cardinals in the NFC.

But the Jaguars were in the top two of their division for the next four seasons (and made the playoffs each year). The Panthers were in the top two for three of those same four seasons, and in their second season not only won the division and made the playoffs, but got to the Championship game.

Since then they have both done reasonably well, perhaps worse more recently than before

The 1996 draftees were technically the Ravens, but they were basically a franchise move while the Cleveland Browns went on hiatus with their owner taking up the slot their owner vacated to move to Baltimore. When the Browns returned in 1999, they did indeed suck for a few years.

The 2002 draftees were the Texans, who also had a poor start.

But then look at the Premiership here: very often the newly promoted teams are favourites to go straight back down. In most years at least one of the promoted teams goes straight back down again.
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Post 28 May 2015, 1:22 pm

The packers are not as good an example as you think. The NFL draws fans from a wide area and Packers fans come by the thousands from Milwaukee, Madison, even Minneapolis. Hell, I used to sit next to someone at Buffalo games who had season tix who lived in Wshington DC, that is an extreme example no doubt but in Wisconsin, the entire state goes to packers games!
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Post 28 May 2015, 1:28 pm

Apparently, one of the biggest areas of dispute in Wisconsin divorce settlements is who gets to keep the Packers tickets....

That said, it's still pretty clear that a team from such a small town can remain competitive primarily because of the way that the NFL shares out the TV money, which in turn is down to the closed shop franchise arrangements.
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Post 29 May 2015, 9:37 am

Sassenach wrote:Apparently, one of the biggest areas of dispute in Wisconsin divorce settlements is who gets to keep the Packers tickets....

That said, it's still pretty clear that a team from such a small town can remain competitive primarily because of the way that the NFL shares out the TV money, which in turn is down to the closed shop franchise arrangements.


True . . . now. However, they were competitive when there was no TV revenue to speak of.

And, my point. GMTom, is that you have a team that is not owned by the likes of Kraft or Jerry Jones, but by a group of folks in small town USA.
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Post 29 May 2015, 9:56 am

I have a "modest proposal" for how the NFL could introduce a two tier league system, retain the concept of the two conferences, fit into the current season window and retain the playoffs:

1) Normal season:

Each conference divides into two divisions, 1 & 2 (by previous year's performance). That gives four divisions of 8 teams each.

Each team plays 15 games against the other teams in their level, so an NFC1 team plays the 7 other NFC 1 teams and the 8 AFC1 teams. Home/away rotates each season. That's one fewer game than in the normal season now.

Then you have the final rankings for the league season.

The bottom teams in the "1" divisions are relegated. The top teams in the "2" divisions are relegated

2) Playoffs

There are different playoffs:

a) For promotion & relegation

Because we have lost a week, an extra round of playoffs:

Teams in 6th & 7th in each "1" division play each other, the loser is relegated to their conference's "2" division

Teams in 2nd & 3rd in each "2" division play each other, the winner is promoted to the "1" division

b) SuperBowl play-offs as the current format, except:

The "1" division champions and runners up get the byes into the Conference Semi Finals
The teams in 3rd & 4th qualify for the playoffs as of right. The teams in 5th take what is now the first "Wild Card" slot, and the teams who won the "2" divisions take the second Wild Card slot.
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Post 29 May 2015, 10:14 am

danivon wrote:I have a "modest proposal" for how the NFL could introduce a two tier league system, retain the concept of the two conferences, fit into the current season window and retain the playoffs:

1) Normal season:

Each conference divides into two divisions, 1 & 2 (by previous year's performance). That gives four divisions of 8 teams each.

Each team plays 15 games against the other teams in their level, so an NFC1 team plays the 7 other NFC 1 teams and the 8 AFC1 teams. Home/away rotates each season. That's one fewer game than in the normal season now.

Then you have the final rankings for the league season.

The bottom teams in the "1" divisions are relegated. The top teams in the "2" divisions are relegated

2) Playoffs

There are different playoffs:

a) For promotion & relegation

Because we have lost a week, an extra round of playoffs:

Teams in 6th & 7th in each "1" division play each other, the loser is relegated to their conference's "2" division

Teams in 2nd & 3rd in each "2" division play each other, the winner is promoted to the "1" division

b) SuperBowl play-offs as the current format, except:

The "1" division champions and runners up get the byes into the Conference Semi Finals
The teams in 3rd & 4th qualify for the playoffs as of right. The teams in 5th take what is now the first "Wild Card" slot, and the teams who won the "2" divisions take the second Wild Card slot.


Finding some place to "relegate" the Second division to would be tricky.

Of course, I'm all in favor. However, the NFL is the one sport wherein change would be the most difficult. They have clawed to the top of the heap and probably see no reason to change. They make billions as it is.

What many fans don't understand is this truth: for teams out of playoff contention, there is currently NO reason to even try to win. Now, they still do, but it's dumb to do so. As in the NBA, the goal is to "tank" and thus get a better draft pick.
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Post 29 May 2015, 10:52 am

Doctor Fate wrote:Finding some place to "relegate" the Second division to would be tricky.
Which is why I didn't include it. Baby steps - get used to the concept of promotion and relegation, and then look at a lower tier. There have been attempts at feeder leagues, and I guess they fail because no-one wants to own a franchise that is just there to play second-rate players and draft failures, so that some get a second chance (so as soon as they show promise the NFL teams grab them).

It might be easier if there was a hope for promotion and relegation between such a league and the NFL.

Of course, I'm all in favor. However, the NFL is the one sport wherein change would be the most difficult. They have clawed to the top of the heap and probably see no reason to change. They make billions as it is.

What many fans don't understand is this truth: for teams out of playoff contention, there is currently NO reason to even try to win. Now, they still do, but it's dumb to do so. As in the NBA, the goal is to "tank" and thus get a better draft pick.
Maybe the NBA would be a better one to change. It has the same issues of closed shops etc.
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Post 29 May 2015, 12:46 pm

just curious, speaking of the NFL and London. The NFL is more than eager to get a team in London in the very near future. As it is you host two real games per year now, eventually it's a full time team! What is the feeling regarding the NFL having a team there? Based on your observations and what you hear, what is the London opinion of the NFL and having your own team? Would it work, is their any "real" interest?
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Post 29 May 2015, 3:30 pm

I don't live in London, but a couple of my friends are big NFL fans. One of them supports the 49ers (he actually got married in San Francisco, in part to give himself a chance to go to a game at Candlestick Park on his honeymoon) and the other is a fan of the Lions. They've both made the trip down to London to watch when their respective teams have been in town. They loved the experience, but they paid a fortune for it, not just in terms of ticket prices but in train fares and hotels. Would they do it again if instead of getting to watch their adopted team they were watching a London franchise ? In truth I tend to doubt it. British sports fans are not so fickle as you are in the US. Most British people who are into NFL already have a team that they support and they're not going to change it just because there's now a London franchise.

As it stands the London games are hugely profitable for the NFL because British fans are willing to pay a massive premium for tickets just to get the chance to watch regular season games here. That wouldn't continue though. Nobody would give a toss about the new London franchise and so it would be reliant upon the relatively small contingent of British NFL fans being wiling to shell out for incredibly overpriced tickets for 8 games a year to go and watch a team that they don't even support. From what I know of British NFL supporters, I really don't see it working out too well. They already have a team and aren't in the market for another one. More can be less.
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Post 31 May 2015, 12:31 pm

Sassenach wrote:I don't live in London, but a couple of my friends are big NFL fans. One of them supports the 49ers (he actually got married in San Francisco, in part to give himself a chance to go to a game at Candlestick Park on his honeymoon) and the other is a fan of the Lions. They've both made the trip down to London to watch when their respective teams have been in town. They loved the experience, but they paid a fortune for it, not just in terms of ticket prices but in train fares and hotels. Would they do it again if instead of getting to watch their adopted team they were watching a London franchise ? In truth I tend to doubt it. British sports fans are not so fickle as you are in the US. Most British people who are into NFL already have a team that they support and they're not going to change it just because there's now a London franchise.

As it stands the London games are hugely profitable for the NFL because British fans are willing to pay a massive premium for tickets just to get the chance to watch regular season games here. That wouldn't continue though. Nobody would give a toss about the new London franchise and so it would be reliant upon the relatively small contingent of British NFL fans being wiling to shell out for incredibly overpriced tickets for 8 games a year to go and watch a team that they don't even support. From what I know of British NFL supporters, I really don't see it working out too well. They already have a team and aren't in the market for another one. More can be less.


English fans should wait a bit to see if the NFL, itself, does not collapse under its own hubris and liability. Hubris from the NFL's ongoing and increasingly bald extortion of money, tax exclusions, and other perks from cities (politicians) for the meaningless "privilege" of building sports arenas, turning over parking fees, naming rights, seat license fees (in order to buy season tickets), and other funding sources to the NFL and its local franchise (team), which may be owned by somebody that does not even live in the State. Hubris from by an organization (like the Olympic Committee) that gouges local areas even further by the fees and perks the NFL demands in order to host the Superbowl. All of this comes under the dubious and completely false pledge that sports arenas are sources of economic growth. Why, the return is so good that instead of the NFL simply building the arenas, they blackmail cities to cough up the taxpayer's money or they will take the team elsewhere. I believe the NFL finally gave up its phony "NPO" status with regard to tax liability. And then there is the new policy of charging Superbowl Halftime musicians for the privilege of performing. Did I mention the scurrilous practice of charging fans "license fees" for the privilege of buying season tickets?

Liability because the NFL is coming under more and more scrutiny for its lack of support for retired and injured players, as former players start suing the NFL. The NFL's pitiful handling of problem players (those with criminal records, those that get arrested during the season) continue to make the NFL look like a bad reality TV show. Then there is the NFL's ongoing head-in-the-sand attitude about team owners who have their own legal issues, such as owners being sued for breach of contract in their other businesses and getting sued again for other possibly illegal business practices.

Of course, the die-hard fans just consider this part of the price to pay for having a Gen-you-whine NFL team and state-funded arena where they have the privilege of paying huge ticket prices (England is not the only one getting gouged), high parking fees, outrages prices for so-so food, and increased prices for food and drink because of the additional taxes cities must levy to help pay off the stadium that is going to earn them so much money.

In other words, Londoners should walk away fast and stick with their own football. The only people who win in American Football is the NFL and its team owners.
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Post 31 May 2015, 2:22 pm

The stadium situation in London is a little different. All of the NFL games so far have been played at Wembley, which is a 90000 seater stadium built at great expense by the FA (with a fair chunk of government support) that already exists and the debt for which is currently being paid off. The fees that the NFL have paid for the rights to host games there have just amounted to extra profit which helps meet the mortgage payments. As such it was a blessing for them and they were more than happy for the one or two occasional games that we got initially to turn into 3 or 4 games a year. That said though, it's difficult to see how it could be extended to a full season. Wembley is restricted by local noise restriction agreements to a fixed number of events per year (I think it's about 20). They already use it for the FA Cup semi finals and final, the League Cup final and the playoff finals for the 4 divisions below Premier League level. In addition to that it hosts all of England's home internationals, which I'd guess will be 6-8 games every year, many/most of which would clash with the NFL season. On top of that they often host big music concerts there and other lucrative events. Finding room in the schedule for a minimum 8 NFL home games between September and January would almost certainly force the FA to start moving the England internationals out of Wembley. Oddly enough most football fans would probably prefer this, but it would create legal difficulties because the FA have sold long-term debenture tickets for a lot of money which guarantee a certain number of England games every season.

There are other stadiums in London of course, and I suspect any new franchise would have to look into sharing one of them, but they all come with their own difficulties.
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Post 04 Jun 2015, 5:40 am

I think it would be awesome to have a team outside North America, hell, a team in Canada and/or Mexico would be nice as well! The stadium can be worked out fairly easily, I think that's a minor issue at best. As far as a fan base, Sass points out there is already a decent fan base of the NFL, while right now it is split among many teams, once a team establishes itself in your market, it would absolutely lead to some team allegiance switching (and why not? When I moved to where I am now an hour from Buffalo, I switched to the Bills as my team. I'm not fickle, it's supporting the local team) It would no doubt generate more local support as well, hell it would be a regional/national support at that!? I do laugh at the confusion between the New England Patriots and that New Team in England, but if there is a decent fan base already, I think it certainly could work.

The claims about being expensive, so-so food, etc. How different is this from your current football teams? And remember the regular season is only 8 home games, season tickets, even fairly expensive ones are not "too" outrageous considering its multiplied by only 8.
It all comes down to if they have the support, if nobody cares, it will sink. If they have even a "decent" fan base, in a city that size, it could be very successful no doubt.

My Bills play in London this October! I am looking forward to that game for the "different" feel it will have, watching at 8AM (or so?) is going to be a bit strange but I still look forward to it.