One of the biggest fears in professional sport is that the road back to international competition will be longer than feared.
A number of Rugby bodies have expressed fears about the financial crisis that would flow from no games in 2020 while Euro 2020 being pushed back to 2021 will also be dependent on the free movement of teams across borders.
The fear will have deepened with this week’s announcement that the NFL’s international series of four games in London and one in Mexico City is being brought back to mainland USA for the 2020 season.
It will be the first time in 14 years that no game has been played at Wembley Stadium.
“The NFL’s London Games have become a major part of the NFL season and the UK sports calendar,” said NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkland.
“But the uncertainty in the current sporting landscape and the tremendous amount of long-term travel and planning required to stage successful London Games mean this is the sensible decision to make.”
“After considerable analysis, we believe the decision to play all our games domestically this season is the right one for our players, our clubs, and all our fans in the US, Mexico and UK,” said NFL executive vice president, chief strategy and growth officer Christopher Halpin.
“We greatly appreciate the support of our governmental and stadium partners in Mexico and the United Kingdom, who all agree with this decision, and we look forward to returning for games in both countries in the 2021 season.”
The Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins had previously announced they would be home teams for international games this year. They’ll instead be scheduled to play all their home games in their usual stadiums.
The league had been planning to feature one game in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, two in London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and two more at Wembley Stadium. The NFL has had a game at Wembley for 13 straight seasons.
Confirmation from the NCAA, the governing body for College Sport in the US is still awaited regarding plans for the College Football season scheduled to kick off in Dublin with the game between Navy and Notre Dame this coming August.
While this precedent means that game is also likely to be repatriated, it has to be hoped that a similar level of long term comfort and support around the five-year plan for College Games at the Aviva Stadium will also emerge in the coming weeks.