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Dear Alistair Kirkwood, Managing Director at NFL UK

Dear Alistair

I write this open letter to you, on behalf of NFL fans across the UK. After discussions on Twitter with other fans, it is clear that there are things that we would like to praise you for, and where we’d really like to see improve for the good of the game and the overall fan experience. There were two key themes from this were improving the game day experience and the availability and variety of merchandise.

NFL UK Game day experience and other events

Overall, fans are happy with the games we are getting, the teams and the locations, although there have been some who would like to see the game outside of London as a trial. In that same conversation, fans expressed that they were disappointed with the tailgate at the 2015 International Series and also in the lack of variety at the stores on the day.

Admittedly, coming to the final game last year was disappointing in that there was no fan-rally the day before like there is with all other games. It doesn’t seem fair that some fans that could only afford one game missed out on all of the excitement and hype that the previous games had. However, there was a fan forum with former players, which was really well run and was a fantastic experience.

Tailgates seem to be a recurring theme with fans – they’d like this to be comparable with that in the US. We appreciate the UK isn’t known for its Winnebago’s but it would be great to see a wider choice of food stalls on the day. More excitement and build up.

Fans would like to see more events like the fan forum across the UK. As an example, the Kirk Cousins fan forum was held on an evening mid-week meaning only fans based in London or close enough to commute and get there on time could attend.

We were very lucky this year with the Inside the Huddle podcast tour visiting other cities but still, it was limited to numbers so some fans missed out. There’s a real opportunity to be had there – one to seriously consider.

Some fans have asked for more season ticket options for two of the three games, for those for example who cannot afford the full cost in attending.

Fans have also requested better planning for travel such as avoiding dates where rail strikes are scheduled or where planned rail works will be taking place.

Availability and variety of NFL merchandise

Kitbag is the supplier of NFLShopEurope and earlier this year they were taken over by Fanatics. From this, we would expect to see a better range of products and also as important, a constant supply of stock.

Retail is a complex market and the NFL isn’t the number one sport within the UK so from a business point of view, it doesn’t make financial sense to have the entire range here, like they do in America because there would then be a lot of unsold items. As fans, we understand and appreciate this will be the case. However, it is frustrating for fans that the range is as small as it is with a number of them going directly to the US website to purchase the products they want – meaning the UK store is missing out on a large number of sales. There needs to be a way the two can link up, as it would make it so much easier and loyal fans would buy in to it more.

Another point fans mentioned was the lack in consistency of merchandise available in that your more popular teams have more products available than the less successful/known teams. There also seems to only be, for a number of teams, one players jersey. It would be great to see this extended somewhat where possible. Some felt this didn’t apply just online but also at the game day stores at Wembley.

Another issue raised was cost in that some still felt it is cheaper to order directly from the US website even including the postage and tax. Is there something more which could be done on this? This is also likely one of the main reason people resort to purchasing counterfeit good. If products were more affordable, this could be avoided.

Another very valid point is it would be great to see more clothing available beyond the football jerseys including more women’s/fitted items with women often having to order men’s clothing. In fact, one thing which is a real issue for women is there seems to be one choice in jerseys and that being they can only purchase the quarterback jersey. If you were to look at the store right now you would see there are only 29 products available to women. More choice is definitely needed in this area.

Overall, the issue here for fans seems to be the lack of variety available and it would be great to see more of the specials like Colour Rush and Salute to Service.

Moving forward

The whole aim with NFLGirlUK is to bring news and views on all things NFL from a fans perspective. As writers, we’re all fans, not journalists and it is our passion to talk about the game. We’d like to think of ourselves as the voice of the fans and so we hope you take these comments purely as a way to help improve things for everyone going forward.

We appreciate not everything will happen overnight nor is it something entirely in your control, but if we can start to see some improvements this will be beneficial to both you as a business and for the fans in improving what is available. Especially if the aim is to have a franchise here in the not so distant future.

Thank you for taking the time for view this letter, I look forward to your response.

Kind regards

Liz Fox
Founder at NFLGirlUK.com

If like us, you are an NFL fan based in the UK and agree with the combined comments of fans above, please comment with your name and town/city in the comments box below. Please also feel free to use this as an opportunity to voice further opinions.

We are hoping the more that sign this (so to speak) the more NFL UK may take notice and help in improving our overall experience as fans. *Fingers crossed*

 

Article written by:

Liz has covered the NFL for five seasons and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for NFLGirlUK.com. Since launching the website in 2014, she has made regular appearances on the TalkSport2 ‘All American Sports Show’ with Nat Coombs and in 2016 was ranked No.37 (of 400+) in the “Super Bowl: Top 50 UK Influencers” by marketing software producers Analytica for “igniting conversations” between fans.

Join the discussion

  1. Richard King

    We will only get improvements if we stand together as fans and ask for changes. They may not be immediate but we could start the discussion to get the things we want

  2. Fiona Knighton

    Completely agree with the points Liz has raised in her letter. The lack of fan rally for the last game last year was disappointing.
    With regard to the stock availability I often find myself ordering directly from the US as it does work out cheaper and the range of merchandise is so much better than here in the UK. Prime example Liz gave was the Salute to Service range. I ordered mine from the US as no stores over here had any women’s clothing. I also ordered the Breast Cancer Awareness range from the same place due to lack of stock over here. The whole point of growing the game is to allow fans to really get involved and be able to support teams of their choosing, not just who they can buy jerseys for.
    We can’t compete with the build up currently experienced in America, but as Liz says not everyone can afford all three games so if we are paying for a ticket it would be nice to experience the whole build up and excitement and fans coming together from a variety of places.

    We are the voice for UK fans and we do need to be heard. As Richard pointed out we need to ask for these things and fair play to Liz for making a start!

  3. Kadeem Simmonds

    Couldn’t agree more here. All the talk about getting UK fans more into the game and yet we are light years behind the States.

    More variety on the store would be a great start. I am unable to get a Kiko Alonso Miami Dolphins jersey because of the 10 character limit, so unless I want a Kiko Alons jersey, I have to use the US store. I went to buy two jerseys from there (which I can’t get on the UK store) and a hat (also not available on the UK store) and it will cost me an extra $100 (£67) for taxes and shipping. That’s the cost of two UK games.

    100% agree with the fact that not everyone can afford to travel to all three games, especially if you live outside of London. So every game should have the exact same build up, that way no-one misses out

  4. Jon Butler

    great letter Liz! Will be more than willing to help or discuss more with officials. Im at every game this year. Last years tailgate was disappointing for both the jags game and the Chiefs game that I attended. However the year before was much better and would go a lot further in enticing new fans.

  5. Dave Sayers

    Great letter and very true, I had to order my last from the Seahawks website, and the tax was worth it for the range, on both male and female side. There is now 4 of us splitting an order on fanatics US to try combat this tax issue because the range is great, a bit more in the UK and we wouldn’t need to do this

  6. Tom Knigh

    This is absolutely spot on. Having raised many of these points myself time and time again it’s great to see more like minded people. The merchandise for the International Series games is so poor. One example of this was when I tried to order a Jets jersey before their game…only to be told it was out of stock and wouldnt be back in stock until December?! What kind of planning is that? The range of Jets merch was terrible at the game and like other posters I buy most of my stuff from the US as the range and options are so much better. Surely a link up with the main NFL Shop wouldnt be so hard to manage?

  7. Paul Fox

    Fully agree! Especially on the female clothes, getting my missus NFL themed tops is very difficult.

  8. Robin Seller

    Great letter Liz, completely agree with all the points raised, especially the merchandise issues. From a personal point of view, London is more convenient for me than any other major city, but taking the games around the UK is a good idea, and I would be prepared to travel to see any NFL game in this country. Hope you get to have a decent conversation with Alistair about this.

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