Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Follow the NFL Lead and Take Our Game Global for the Fans Overseas

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Follow the NFL Lead and Take Our Game Global for the Fans Overseas

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Allardyce West Ham manager EXCLUSIVE

[bar] THE National Football League are at Wembley this weekend when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Chicago Bears. It is not a friendly but a regular season game. It is part of the NFL's plans to take their sport to the rest of the world.

The global influence on our game has been back on the agenda this week after our League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan's claim that a bloc of foreign owners were in favour of scrapping promotion and relegation.

Now I'm not against change but the question has to be asked -- is it good for football? Too often, it seems to me, people with agendas want to change things for selfish reasons, as in this case.

When you want to change things in that manner then usually, someone else suffers.

In the case of this proposal, the competitive environment which has always existed in our game would go.

If this idea became a reality -- and for me it is unthinkable -- it would be the biggest upheaval in the history of our national winter sport.

It would change the historic value of the British game.

You would simply ruin the sport for millions of people and destroy the dreams of those clubs who aspire to reach the top.

You would also end the hopes of clubs like Wimbledon who, in the past and by dint of good management, ambition and determination, made their improbable dream a reality.

Blackpool are another example. For a year they lived the dream. Yes, they would have liked it to have been longer but for half a season they created quite a stir in the Premier League.

However, there is another modification to the Premier League that I wouldn't be against and that is the 39th game to be played abroad.

The Bucs and the Bears will fill Wembley Stadium on Sunday -- the fifth year in a row that the NFL have had a 'proper' game on our shores.

Like the NFL our football at the top level has a worldwide audience so, for me, there is nothing wrong with taking what is a global product and giving the masses who support it avidly on television an opportunity to watch live action that means something as opposed to pre-season friendlies. …

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