The United Kingdom's Love-In With US Sports, And What Happens Next?

As MLB arrives, the NFL is heading to another sell-out
14:00, 23 Jun 2023

This weekend Major League Baseball will return to London for the second time, and the first since 2019. The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will meet at the London Stadium as once again the United Kingdom welcomes US Sport with open arms. 

The return of elite level baseball to these shores has coincided with the NFL putting tickets on sale for the three October matches that are also taking place in the capital. It seems that US Sports are truly taking hold in the UK, with over a quarter of a million people in the queue for NFL tickets at Wembley and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

With the Jacksonville Jaguars now regularly adopting Wembley as their home stadium, it may not be too long before London is their permanent home. In turn, the Jaguars would become Great Britain’s NFL team, a move that could rapidly expand the globalisation of a sport that has been stuck in North America for too long. 


The same goes for baseball and basketball. These traditional American sports have flourished and quite frankly dominated over the Atlantic for so long that even ‘soccer’ is having a hard time competing for audience attention. The big four have the history and tradition that newer spots just don’t have, while the sponsors and advertisers continue to pour huge amounts of money in. 

The United States has been mocked for a fair time for having ‘World Series’ champions in a sport that is restricted to one continent, but at least with this move to play games in the UK they are trying to push the boundaries. They’ve also been accused of only loving their own sports in the past, but in an era when English sports fans still prefer football, cricket, rugby and horse racing over any other sports, that is not an uncommon occurrence globally. 

For English fans however, there is a clear sway towards the sports that are now being played on their doorstep. Again this year the NFL games are expected to sell out with more interest than ever before for tickets, while there are only a handful of tickets left for the baseball. In a few years, with repeat visits and perhaps a more sensible pricing structure, we should see interest rise and consistent sell outs for MLB as well. 


So the love-in is definitely real, and both sports would categorise the London games as a success, but what comes next? For the NFL, a permanent move for the Jaguars seems like a distinct possibility. Owner Shahid Khan, the same guy who owns Fulham, has been a driving force behind the current arrangement and is keen to continue the development of this relationship. 

"Our goal is for London and the UK to always be a part of the Jacksonville Jaguars identity," Khan told the PA news agency. "This is nothing new.

"We never intended London to be an experiment. We were committed to London as our home away from home from the moment we made a four-year commitment that started in 2013.

"We've renewed twice and now we're back at Wembley, which also plays a major part in our international profile.”

The connection between the capital and the NFL is long-standing, with Wembley a favourite of the Jaguars, while Tottenham Hotspur crafted a purpose built pitch that could wheeled in and out of their brand-new stadium in 2019. A potential four-team European League featuring the London-based Jaguars is still on the backburner, for now. 

Clearly those two venues are two of the best in the country, especially when attendance and revenue is taken into consideration, but looking years into the future it would be beneficial to move a game or two to the north of England. The Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford and St James’ Park have all proved capable at hosting some of rugby league's biggest matches in the past. Although the London Stadium has been carefully selected to host baseball this time around, when MLB is up and running on these shores, another move away from London could attract a different audience. 

As things stand, US sports are flourishing in the UK. It’s a relationship that is only going to strengthen with the success we’ve seen so far - with a permanent team in London the big move needed to elevate NFL to the next level and increase the worldwide brand. Whatever comes next, there'll be a party in the capital this weekend - and US sports are here to stay. 

*18+ | Be Gamble Aware

Suggested Searches:
The Sportsman
Manchester United
Manchester City
Premier League
Sportsman HQ
72-76 Cross St
Manchester M2 4JG
We will not ask you to provide any personal information when using The Sportsman website. You may see advertisement banners on the site, and if you choose to visit those websites, you will accept the terms and conditions and privacy policy applicable to those websites. The link below directs you to our Group Privacy Policy, and our Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at: [email protected]

All original material is Copyright © 2019 by The Sportsman Communications Ltd.
Other material is copyright their respective owners.