NFL Slate Regular Season Game at Wembley Despite Lockout
April 19, 2011
It was confirmed yesterday, April 18, by the National Football League (NFL) that Wembley Stadium in London will stage a regular-season game for the fifth consecutive campaign in 2011 – as long as there is an end to the current labour dispute by August 1.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to ‘host’ the Chicago Bears in the 2011 International Series game on Sunday, October 23 at 18:00pm local time. However, in announcing the fixture ahead of the full 2011 season schedule at midnight UK time on Tuesday, April 19, the NFL stated: “Should the current NFL labour situation be unresolved by August 1, the game will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.”
A lockout is currently in place in the league after talks over a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and League owners collapsed, therefore if progress is not made over the summer months, next season could be delayed or even cancelled altogether. However, despite the disruption, teams and NFL officials are pressing ahead with plans for the 2011 campaign.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated: “Our past four games in London have demonstrated the tremendous passion for NFL football that exists in the UK. We hope by staging another extraordinary game at Wembley that we can continue to grow our existing fan base and attract even more new fans.” The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, added: “Continuing London’s love affair with the hugely popular stateside sport, we are proud to once again welcome two of America’s top NFL teams to the capital.”
It will be a nostalgic return to Wembley for the Bears, on the 25th anniversary of playing in the first official NFL game staged in the UK. The Buccaneers also feature prominently in the NFL’s history at the stadium, having played a home game there against the New England Patriots in 2009.
Fox will provide live television coverage of the game in the United States, while live coverage in the UK will air on Sky Sports and BBC Radio, with highlights on BBC TV.