Sports

NFL not ready to give London fourth game despite mayor’s plea

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LONDON — London mayor Sadiq Khan has publicly expressed confidence that the NFL will play four regular-season games here in 2018.

However, that is hardly a sure thing, according to the NFL’s executive vice president of international Mark Waller.

“(Khan) definitely asked the commissioner for four games,” Mark Waller told Sporting News on Monday in an exclusive interview. “We’re not there yet and, to be honest, we’re not there from an inventory standpoint. We’re working on it.”

Waller pointed to a list of challenges the NFL faces in trying to add another contest to the three-game London slate being played this year. A couple of them:

— Transportation challenges for both the public attending the games and teams traveling to and from the United States.

For example, the NFL had to work with London’s Heathrow Airport to book slots for the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants to return following last Sunday’s game. Such availability may not always be guaranteed.

Holding the Rams-Giants game at Twickenham Stadium also presented a logistics challenge for fans, because a train or subway stop isn’t nearby.

“There were long lines at many of the stations and getting in (to the stadium),” Waller acknowledged. “Those are areas where we want to make sure if we added more games that we’ve got the right resources there.”

— The NFL’s scheduling process.

Most teams, especially those on the West Coast of the U.S., want a bye the week after returning from London. Because the NFL gives clubs byes only between Weeks 4-10, there are limitations to which matchups can be booked.

Khan told London’s The Evening Standard newspaper that the NFL was “on the cusp” of agreeing to a four-game schedule.

“I hope that the Commissioner (Roger Goodell) — no pressure — will have good news in the next 45 days,” Khan said. “Just imagine if we went from three to four (games).”

Waller described the relationship between the mayor and NFL as “positive,” but the league isn’t ready to make a four-game commitment quite yet.

“There is a desire from the city of London to do more and there’s a desire for us to do more as well,” Waller said. “We’ve got to make sure we have the games obviously and the support locally to make them happen well because our fans deserve to have a great experience. We don’t want to lose sight of that.”

Source

http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/news/nfl-london-games-international-series-schedule-teams-travel/yl4sx2brtx291jk4nww4e40x0