Will an NFL Team Move to London? Jaguars Owner Has 'No Plans' to Relocate Franchise to Britain

London staged its fourth and final game of the NFL regular season last week, but the possibility of a franchise relocating to the British capital remains a hot topic of debate.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' defeat against the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium last Sunday marked the seventh time the franchise had played in London—two more than any other team.

The Jaguars have played a game per season in the British capital over the last seven years and they have been considered as the NFL's preferred choice should the league agree to relocate a franchise to London.

However, Jaguars owner Shad Khan has poured cold water on the suggestion the team may swap Florida for Britain.

"Personally, in my humble opinion, I don't think it's anywhere near close to that," he told Rich Eisen, as part the latter's NFL The Grind show. "We don't want to have more games than there's really organic demand for. I think no, there are no plans for us to move the team to London."

As the owner of Championship soccer outfit Fulham, Khan is already a major player in London's sporting landscape and last year he was on the verge of purchasing Wembley Stadium.

The deal eventually fell through after the Football Association came under severe criticism for floating the idea of selling English soccer's most prized asset.

Nevertheless, the proposed deal underlined Khan's commitment to London and in the eyes of many it seemed to be paving the way for a franchise to move to Britain.

The Jaguars have built a presence in the U.K. throughout the last seven years, but their deal to play an annual game in London expires after next season.

Khan expressed his desire to renew the partnership, but suggested the Jaguars' presence in London was complementary to their commitment to Jacksonville.

"The idea I had was, why don't we sell the games we can in Jacksonville and then play a game and make a long-term commitment to London, which frankly, a lot of people thought was very crazy," he explained.

"But I think it's turned out to be great, and we need London to really have a stable franchise in Jacksonville."

Khan's comments are a blow to the NFL's plans of relocating a franchise to London, which have been floated around regularly since the British capital first hosted a regular season game in 2007.

Khan is also the second franchise owner in a matter of days to distance himself from the possibility of moving a team across the Atlantic.

Earlier this week, The Athletic reported that the Los Angeles Chargers would listen to the NFL, should the league approach them to discuss moving to the U.K.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos, however, immediately dismissed the suggestion, using particularly colorful language in the process.

"It's total f***ing bulls***," he told reporters. "We're not going to London. We're not going anywhere. We're playing in Los Angeles. This is our home, and this is where we are planning to be for a long f***ing time. Period."

The report suggested the NFL was concerned by the Chargers' lack of appeal in the local market and their struggle in attracting fans since relocating from San Diego in 2017.

At just over 25,000, the Chargers' home attendance this season is comfortably the lowest in the league.

NFL, Wembley Stadium, Jacksonville Jaguars
General view of Wembley Stadium during the NFL match between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on November 3 in London, England. Jack Thomas/Getty

The figure is largely due to the fact the franchise plays at the 27,000-capacity Dignity Health Sports Park, which is by far the smallest venue in the NFL.

In percentage terms, the Chargers fill 94 percent of their stadium on average, but fans of teams playing on the road tend to snap up most of the tickets.

The Athletic suggested the Chargers could play at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, were they to agree to a move to London.

The venue, the first NFL-purpose built stadia outside the U.S., hosted its first two NFL games this season.

Chris Halpin, head of NFL International and the league's executive vice president and chief strategy and growth officer, suggested the league has done all it could to ensure a franchise can relocate to London.

However, it requires a willing owner.

"There is nothing blocking us from having a franchise in London, but we have to get all our ducks in a row," he told Newsweek on Sunday, ahead of the Jaguars' game against the Texans at Wembley.

"We need to have an owner who wants to relocate a team here, but that is out of our control."

NFL research estimates the number of NFL fans in the U.K. to be at approximately 15 million and the four games played in London over the past five weeks drew in a combined attendance of just over 289,000—an average of 72,260 fans per game.

League data shows that overnight TV viewership in the U.K.—including Sky Sports' RedZone show—rose 32 percent year-on-year in 2018, while the broadcaster has seen its weekly ratings double over the past decade.

Streams of NFL programming on BBC's on-demand iPlayer service, meanwhile, have increased by 150 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Will an NFL Team Move to London? Jaguars Owner Has 'No Plans' to Relocate Franchise to Britain | Sports