Mark Lamping, the Jacksonville Jaguars President and Fulham FC Director spoke on the excellent Sportfolio programme on Bloomberg TV ahead of the NFL International Series game between the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley about the Florida franchises’ possible move into the UK and the FA Premier League.
“The challenge with the Jaguars, because we do operate in one of the NFL’s smallest markets, because we really need to expand our brand and grow it regionally, and maybe do what we need to do internationally to bring more attention to the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville.
“We have this unbelievably strong safety net underneath us which is the NFL and it does such an unbelievable job of marketing the NFL throughout the UK, just operationally what they do.
“The opportunities are the fact that we can generate a significant amount of revenue, higher ticket prices and higher capacity. It gives us the opportunity to develop some business relationships, which ordinarily we might now have had the opportunity to work with somebody; London opens a lot of doors for us.
“Perhaps, most importantly, it is something really good for the community of Jacksonville. It is something that increases the awareness of our community that really does not have an awareness right now. It’s a community that has so many great things to offer but does not get such a huge piece of the Florida tourism pie and there’s a surprising number of companies based in the UK that have growing operations in Jacksonville to the degree of which we can support an economic development, not only it can help Jacksonville it can help the Jaguars.
“One of the things that the NFL is trying to do is send a team that is relatively unknown, that doesn’t have a huge following or a high level of awareness, and if by virtue of them playing four consecutive years in London can you increase their awareness and following and if the NFL can prove that then it is certainly going to influence what their long-term strategy should be for the UK.
“In terms of our fan club, we’ve gone from zero members to 15,000 – there is a real appetite for a National Football League throughout the UK, how deep it is we have yet to determine but we are going to find that out.
“We’re in a very unique position. We’re in a small market that has some challenges.
“The leadership in our market, whether it is business leadership or political leadership have embraced this idea of us moving one game a year to London because of what it will do for the franchise and what it can do for Jacksonville as a community.
“Number One – there’s not a lot of teams that can do that.
“Number Two, we’re really excited about playing a role and doing our part to help the NFL decide what the expansion plans should be internationally because the NFL will continue to grow, but the pace of their growth here in the United States at some point in time is going to slow and all of us want to continue to grow so it’s going to have to come from international.”