Two years from the last time the National Football League invaded north London, American gridiron football is back! Today, both the NFL and Tottenham Hotspur announced the official return of the London Series this coming October, with scheduled games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons, as well as the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tottenham’s stadium was purpose-built with a state of the art retractable grass soccer pitch and with a field turf NFL substrate beneath it expressly so that Spurs could host NFL games at its place instead of at Wembley Stadium. Two years ago, the stadium hosted games between the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders, as well as the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both sets of games were extremely well attended despite it being the first time that NFL games had been played in the new ground.
Last season, however, the NFL London Series was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, it’s coming back, though with precautions. In a statement on Tottenham’s website, NFL Executive Vice President Christopher Halpin said the following:
“We are excited to be returning to London and welcoming back our fans for two great matchups. We expect these games to be a celebration of our sport and our robust UK fan base.
“We have been working closely with the UK government, the city of London and the relevant health organisations over the past year in planning the games. Through their successful vaccine rollout and commitment to bringing crowds back to sports events, the time is right for the return of NFL football this fall. We will continue to monitor the COVID environment, putting health and safety first, and will adhere to any and all future COVID regulations and restrictions.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars are owned by Fulham owner Shahid Khan, making Jacksonville an obvious choice to again participate in the London Series. Jacksonville also drafted Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence in the first round of the draft, giving London NFL fans a chance to potentially see one of the most exciting new talents in the game play in person.
The series also could provide a special in-person meeting between Atlanta Falcons placekicker Younghoe Koo, one of just four South Koreans to ever play in the NFL, and Spurs’ Son Heung-Min. Koo was born in Seoul and relocated to New Jersey in the sixth grade; he and Son connected on Zoom in a video on Spurs TV.
Tickets will be available for purchase in due course, likely closer to the date when there is more clarity on capacity and restrictions with regards to COVID.