Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has reported interest in buying Fulham F.C. in the English Premier League, possibly by the end of the week. Given the NFL’s longstanding interest in London, Khan’s interest in international branding, an extant four-year agreement for the Jaguars to play there and it being July, this undoubtedly will whet the Jaguars to London talk. Don’t fall for it.
An NFL owner getting involved in the EPL? Old news. The Glazers own Manchester United. Stan Kroenke owns most of Arsenal. Former Browns owner Randy Lerner owns Aston Villa. Khan would be the sixth American owner among the current 20 EPL clubs. The league is a natural outlet for NFL owners, with sports empire expansion hamstrung by the league’s cross-ownership rule. Khan would violate said rule if he bought Fulham and tried to base the Jaguars in London.
There’s no incentive for an NFL team to move. The league is a television product. Revenue is shared equally. There’s a salary cap. Teams are becoming less dependent on ticket income. The last franchise move happened in 1997. LA has been without a team since 1995. Teams keep the prospect just plausible enough to extort public funding for new stadiums.
Moving an NFL team to London, specifically, makes zero sense. There are the obvious travel, competitive and logistical problems. There’s the unfavorable exchange rate. For Jacksonville specifically, there’s a significant tax hike for everyone involved. There’s also the small matter of where the team would play. Tearing up the Wembley pitch for a one-off exhibition is one thing. Moving in for 10 Sundays per year, at least, is quite another. Is he going to renovate 25,000 seat Craven Cottage? If moving a franchise to London made any sort of sense, the better placed Stan Kroenke would already be doing it.
Maybe Khan has some grand scheme to become the Grand Poobah of London sports. More realistically, he’s sees in Fulham what he saw in Jacksonville: a bargain bin foothold in a sports league that brings in astronomical amounts of TV revenue.
[Photo via Getty]
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