Sport

Super Bowl epitomises England’s NFL adoration

The curtain has been drawn on another NFL season with the Seattle Seahawks running riot over the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium, claiming a 43-8 win in the Super Bowl.

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Photo: Forbes

It was the 48th edition of the ‘biggest game in football’ and brought the third highest winning margin in the history of the game. But outside of America – a crowd of 85,000 were in attendance with over 110 million watching at home – the following of the game just gets bigger.

This year, London’s Wembley Stadium will play host to three regular season games – up one on the past two years – a far cry from the days of the ill-fated NFL Europe.

With attendances for the five-nation tournament averaging around 20,000 over its fifteen-year existence, all eleven Wembley games since 2007 have sold out, sparking further debate over a possible London franchise. Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that he is ‘continually amazed’ at the breadth of knowledge displayed by the UK’s NFL fans and aims to ‘engage with them more deeply’.

With the Glazers at Manchester United and Tampa Bay Buccanneers, Stan Kroenke with Arsenal and the St. Louis Rams and now Shahid Khan at Fulham and the Jacksonville Jaguars, there are links growing between top level US and English sport. The San Francisco ‘49ers recently teamed up with Leeds United in a ‘strategic partnership’ aimed at allowing both outfits to learn from the marketing and business sides of each other.

The NFL is certainly more visible now in the UK than it has been in previous years. With Sky Sports offering most of the UK coverage – Channel 4 offers terrestrial coverage including a Vernon Kay fronted weekly review show – pundits like Cecil Martin, Kevin Cadle and Neil Reynolds are becoming more recognisable.

It is naïve to say that the NFL is rivaling the powerhouse of British sport that is the Premier League, but fan bases are undoubtedly growing.

07/02/2014

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