If you were surprised by the report that the NFL is Chargers to London, you’re not the only one; apparently the league was also surprised to hear this news.the
In a statement on Tuesday, the NFL claimed that it hasn’t had any discussions with anyone about the Chargers possibly relocating to England.
“There is no substance whatsoever to this report,” the league said. “No consideration has been given to the Chargers playing anywhere other than Los Angeles at the new stadium in Hollywood Park next season and beyond. There have been no discussions of any kind between the NFL and the Chargers regarding moving to London. Both our office and the Chargers are entirely focused on the success of the team in Los Angeles.”
The Chargers relocation rumors have been going strong since Monday when The Athletic published a story saying that the NFL has discussed the possibility of moving the team to London. Less than 24 hours after the story was published, not only did the NFL shoot down the report, but Chargers owner Dean Spanos .
“[The report was] total f—ing bulls—,” Spanos said, via ESPN.com. “We’re not going to London. We’re not going anywhere. We’re playing in Los Angeles. This is our home, and this is where we are planning to be for a long f—ing time. Period.”
“You’re asking me the question: is it a viable option? And, no,” Jones said Tuesday. “The Chargers are committed to their future in Los Angeles and are going to be in a fabulous stadium. They’re a great franchise. … They’re going to be a big part of the Los Angeles sports scene.”
Although that’s three strong denials, that’s exactly what you would expect to hear from the NFL, Spanos and Jones. The Chargers are trying to sell tickets in a new stadium and if fans in L.A. thought they might be leaving for London in the near future, then they probably aren’t going to buy tickets. The Chargers leaving would also put the Rams in an awkward situation, because they’ve been selling advertising — and even the naming rights for the stadium — based on the idea that there would be at least 16 NFL games played there per season (Eight home games for the Rams and eight for the Chargers).
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should blow off this report. As a matter of fact, a Chargers move to London actually makes some sense.
For one, let’s start with the fact the Rams owner Stan Kroenke originally wanted the L.A. market to himself. After the Chargers and Raiders proposed in Carson, Calif., Kroenke came in with his own proposal, which the NFL eventually approved under one condition: He had to be open to hosting a second team at the stadium he was going to build. The Chargers in L.A., and if they had refused, the option would have gone to the Raiders, who hadn’t agreed to move to Las Vegas yet.
The reason this is important to note is because the Chargers are. If the Chargers wanted to move, Kroenke would ostensibly have to let them out of the lease, which he might be open to since he wanted the L.A. market to himself in the first place. Also, Kroenke might be open to it because the Chargers have been a borderline disaster in L.A. so far from a financial standpoint.
Not only is their stadium filled up with opposing fans every week, but they’re having trouble meeting simple financial goals that have been set for them at the new stadium, which has raised concern around the NFL about whether or not the Chargers have a viable future in L.A. In October 2018, the Chargers had to cut revenue projections for their personal seat licenses (PSL) by $250 million from $400 million down to $150 million, which is a huge amount of revenue to lose for a team that already is on the hook for a $650 million relocation fee.
The other reason a Chargers move to London wouldn’t be that crazy is because the NFL has been saying for years that a team in England is going to happen at some point. Although the Jaguars still seem like the most viable candidate due to own Shad Khan’s ties to London, the league could end up moving any team there.
In The Athletic’s story, the NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer Chris Halpin even admitted that a team moving to London was possible.
“It’s definitely within the realm of possibility,” Halpin said.
In October 2018, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also made it clear that London might be ready for its own franchise.
“I feel this market without question,” Goodell said. “There’s no question a team could be successful here.”
If you’re wondering how soon it could be before we finally see an NFL team in London, NFL executive vice president Mark Waller has an answer for that. Like Goodell, Waller also did an interview in October 2018, and he said that putting in team in London by 2022 would be a “logical time frame from a business perspective.”
“We have tested and continue to test all the variables,” Waller told ESPN.com. “This year, playing three games [on successive Sundays] at Wembley has tested the field, tested the ability to sell out on consecutive weekends, which is how we’d have to schedule any franchise based here. I think we’re in good shape.”
The reason 2022 would make sense is because it would come after the NFL and the NFLPA hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. The logistics of a London franchise — including taxes, currency exchange, travel schedule, contract implications for working in a foreign country — would all have to be accounted for in the new CBA.
“It would be a significant change in the working conditions in one of our teams, so that would require agreement with our players’ union,” Waller said.
The other factor of a potential relocation to London is that the team going to England would have to WANT to move there. The NFL is almost certainly not going to be expanding anytime soon, if ever again, so relocation will be the only option. If the Chargers can’t make things work in L.A., and Kroenke doesn’t really want them there anyway, then all of the sudden, they look like one of the few viable options for a potential move to London.