COMMENTARY: Chargers should leave L.A. for London, become first international NFL team


Jeffrey Beall, Barcex & Hilltop Views Illustration

Just two years since relocating to L.A., the Chargers are reportedly considering a move once again, this time to London.

In the wake of another complete series of the NFL London Games, The Athletic reported that both the Los Angeles Chargers and the NFL are open to the idea of the team moving to London. If they did, they would become the first North American pro sports team to be based in Europe, taking the league’s expansion to a new level in a move seemingly beneficial for all parties involved.

London played host to the NFL for a 13th straight year in 2019 as all four games were sold out with more than 286,000 fans attending games in the English capital. The conversation regarding the benefits and potential for a team’s permanent relocation has ramped up in recent times, and if the report is to be believed, the move would make the NFL’s continued growth and expansion a permanent fix. The Chargers could be trailblazers, tempting others to take a similar leap of faith.

The biggest beneficiaries of such an arrangement would undoubtedly be London and its fast-growing American football fanbase.

Given its exposure to the sport over an extended period of time along with the sport’s increasing coverage and popularity, London is more than ready to embrace the NFL culture on a full-time basis. With a population of die-hard sports fans and a cosmopolitan feel comparable to American sporting culture, the NFL would be warmly welcomed.

As has been demonstrated, London’s stadiums are worthy of hosting showpiece NFL games, particularly Wembley Stadium and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ­— into which the Chargers would relocate. The latter is a recently-opened, state-of-the-art piece of sporting architecture assembled with multipurpose use specifically at the forefront of its ground-breaking design.

According to The Athletic’s report, the move would have to be brought about by a switch in division between the Chargers and the Texans to facilitate a London relocation. Another potential solution is that, per The Athletic, “the NFL could help build the team’s bridge to London by transferring the $650 million relocation fee it still must pay for the Los Angeles move to a London relocation.”

What’s more, “In doing so, the NFL would eliminate the continuing problem of the Chargers’ awkward fit in Los Angeles, where they are trying to succeed in a challenging market that went two decades without a team.”

The Chargers seem uncomfortable in L.A.— there is a reason that they are the team touted to be the first to make such a historic step.

As has become synonymous with their home games, the Chargers struggle to fill out the StubHub Center, with away fans regularly making up a majority of the crowd. Further, NFL owners are reportedly concerned 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.”

Put simply, London now has the understanding and groundswell of popularity to instantly embrace both the sport and the team on English shores.

Having relocated to L.A. from San Diego in 2017, the Chargers would surely be well-equipped to relocate once more, albeit further afield. London is ready and awaits a historic NFL charge onto European shores with bated breath.