Bridging the gap between US and UK sports

Two fascinating pieces appeared one after the other on my RSS feed this morning. Both are sourced from the magnificent Guardian football team.

Paolo Bandini:

The NFL had promised “exciting news” regarding its International Series, and Friday’s press release will certainly set tongues wagging – revealing that the St Louis Rams will play one game in the UK in each of the next three seasons, starting with a match-up against the New England Patriots next year…

With the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, having previously stated that the NFL is looking into the possibility of a London franchise, it is hard not to wonder whether the Rams are being primed for a potential relocation.

A London franchise in the NFL? Wow. It doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch, either. They certainly are persisting with the one game in London model for the moment.

Amy Lawrence:

The Premier League has long been a success story as an export that has spread around the globe, but on Sunday it will cover some new territory. For the first time, a domestic English game will be shown live on mainstream American television.

Up until now, the Premier League has been available only on subscription channels, but Fox, who own the rights to broadcast fixtures from England, have scheduled Arsenal v Manchester United on the main network as part of their “Epic Sunday” programming. It will serve as the warm-up for the NFL conference championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants.

This is pretty huge. Most of the hardened soccer guys in the US probably have cable already, but for the growth of the league in the USA, this is pretty perfect. A lead in to a big NFL playoff game, two huge teams, both with American connections (read: owners). This is an advantage that Australia simply does not have. The earliest Premier League matches start in our time zone are around the 9.00pm mark on Saturdays, and even those are rare. Most are on when people are either asleep or at the out for the night. Only the most passionate and hardened choose to watch live.