NFL Has Weighed Possibility Of Moving Chargers To London

November 05, 2019 - 10:31 am
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During the Los Angeles Chargers Week 9 upset of the Green Bay Packers, it wasn't hard to spot cheeseheads at Dignity Health Sports Park. Like, a lot of cheeseheads. The Packers travel as well as any fanbase in football, but it was indicative of a larger problem - since moving to Los Angeles in 2017, the Chargers essentially play 16 road games.

There's some thought that could improve in 2020, when they move into SoFi Stadium, which they will share with the Los Angeles Rams. But the NFL has at least considered the possibility of making other arrangements for the Chargers, who called San Diego home from 1961 to 2016.

According to Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic, there are some in high places in the league that would be supportive of the Chargers potentially relocating to London:

"The Athletic has learned through NFL sources that the possibility of the Chargers moving to London has been broached among league personnel. The Athletic also has learned that, while the team is fully committed to Los Angeles where it will move into the new $4.5 billion stadium with the Rams next year, the Chargers would at least listen if the NFL approached them about London as a possible option.

Finally, The Athletic has learned that NFL owners are concerned enough about the Chargers’ situation in L.A., where a crowded sports market and the presence of the more established Rams has resulted in a tepid embracement of the Chargers, that they would provide the necessary support for a relocation to London if the Chargers pursue it."

Beyond uncertainty about how much consistent fan support the Chargers would get in London, the logistics of playing eight games a season in England would still be a major hurdle.

When a team plays a London game currently, they have a bye week the next week to account for the toll over traveling overseas. For example, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans will have a bye week in Week 10 after playing in London last Sunday. Even if an additional week or two was added onto the NFL schedule - which appears to be a consideration in CBA negotiations - it would seem to put the Chargers at a competitive disadvantage for them to have to travel to the United States for eight games a season. For as cool of a city as London is, it's also unclear how keen players would be on having to move and work there on a full-time basis.

Additionally, games in London currently start at 9:30 a.m. ET in the morning, with London five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. As is, West Coast fans are largely shut out of those games, because they kick off before 7 a.m. locally on Sunday morning, when people are usually sleeping, attending church or running errands. Even if the Chargers would no longer be a West Coast team if they move from Los Angeles to London, they've only ever existed as a West Coast team. If they were moved to London, you would lose large swaths of the television viewing audience that has traditionally made up the Chargers fanbase.

Perhaps the NFL was too eager in moving both the Rams and Chargers to Los Angeles. And with the Rams also set to become a tenant in SoFi Stadium, a brand-new stadium doesn't necessarily mean that the Chargers have to remain in Los Angeles long term. But it still feels like there are too many things that would prevent them from playing all of their home games in Europe.

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