The NFL came to London again this October, showcasing American football with all its stops, starts and padded sadism in the capital for British fans to enjoy. Whether to intrigue English watchers to the novelty of a sport that reigns number 1 in the States in vast disparity to the world recognised sport of what we Americans call ‘soccer’, or to call to attendance a possible growing number of English supporters, I don’t know, but where there is merchandising and franchising to be had, sports club owners will capitalise.
These attempts to intrigue Brits to start using words like ‘touchdown’ and ‘timeout’ and possibly take on some new colours and find their American tribal counterpart, has followed a similar trend of Premier League teams playing friendlies in the US in the summer, and globalism and its capital-loving engineers are trying to cross pollinate the sporting world to gather bigger followings. As a resident of New Orleans Louisiana, which did not make one of the selected battlegrounds for World Cup 2026 action, the possibility of getting to watch West Ham’s first team in action against Tottenham or Newcastle would be a highly sought after pleasure.
It would most likely require a flight and a hotel to get to another part of the country hours away which to some British fans would seem more like a European tour, as America is so vast and its big cities hours of travel away. But I would do it. More than just singular passion from singular fans such as myself, the US is ripe for a British Invasion of ‘English football’ as the World Cup advances upon the States who will host it alongside Canada and Mexico in 2026.
This with the advent of Ryan Reynolds buying Wrexham and the Amazon Prime special that followed, Messi coming to play in the MLS, FIFA on every kids gaming console, our women’s national team still doing well, and the addition of controversies in the NFL, all point to a proper market for the greatest league of football to descend upon the American shores.
The question is would you Brits be willing to give it up? And how would America accept a game that doesn’t have the contact it desires, or the pause for commercial breaks that its sponsors are used to? An idea for a 39th game has been kicking around for a decade now, supported by the late David Gold when he was an owner of Birmingham.
This would indicate a 39th game in the normal PL season to be played in the States or in another international venue, where a match for each team would be played in another venue – but this has always been fraught with too many complications. The MLS (Major League Soccer) in the States is growing stronger, and the state of play, bolstered by former international and PL players entering the league, has grown into something of similar quality to that of the Championship instead of League 2 where it used to be.
More teams have been added, and Apple offers a special pay service to stream games, which indicates a growing amount of interest as Apple bought these rights from ESPN. Messi has turned the MLS on its head, and fans pack stadiums just to see him as a small figure on the pitch in reality.
Fans who formally did not watch the MLS are now descending upon every city that Inter Miami plays in. Would they do the same to watch Lucas Paqueta or Mohammad Salah? Around the States as can be seen in America’s broadcast of the Premier league – with various streaming services I actually have more availability of watching West Ham games legally than those living in the UK – there are constant supporters clubs, waving the colonial flag of their PL club and crossbreeding their states colours or capital markers with their British clubs colors.
I have made a crest myself for West Ham with New Orleans’ iconic St Louis Cathedral overlaid with crossed irons reminiscent of Upton Park castle, and put that on a website where fans across the world can join West Ham supporters at a local pub when they come to visit. With growing competition from the MLS and the logistics of traveling abroad to disrupts the sacred schedule of the English football season, I don’t think its likely that a regular season PL game will be played in the US, but I do expect friendlies and preseason games to move to America, as well as possibly another form of Cup (The American Cup) which I think Americans will view with joy and you Brits will tolerate as a interesting diversion, as long as it doesn’t take the form of an international super league.
My hopes are that with the World Cup and streamed globalisation of the sport, along with an added immigrant population who appreciates ‘the beautiful game’ that Americans will accept soccer as football which currently sits between 4th and 7th most popular sport behind American football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey and NASCAR sometimes, and gain the prominence it deserves.
There is, however, a slight joy I experience as a lover of British football in its esotericism that borders on elitism, and the ability and necessity to connect with fans across the pond, and the sacred sojourns I make to watch pivotal matches like Mark Noble’s final game, or a semi final that makes supporting a sport in another country that much more special and a requires a continued passion which keeps the highs high and the lows so much lower. If the Premier League were to come to the US on a fixed basis, I think we would excitedly welcome it, but the tradeoff for the passion we need because of its unattainability might hinder the excitement you will see from American fans as they travel to the Mecca’s of their adopted clubs.