Chargers owner hits back at reported London move

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos on Tuesday dismissed a report that the team was eyeing a move to London, insisting the franchise planned to stay in California for "a long time."

In comments to US media following a report on The Athletic website on Monday, Spanos said the team had no interest in a move to Britain.

"We're not going to London," Spanos said. "We're not going anywhere. We're playing in Los Angeles. This is our home, and this is where we are planning to be for a long time. Period."

Spanos's comments, which were laced with expletives, came a day after The Athletic reported the team would be open to an approach from NFL chiefs about moving to London.

The Chargers moved to Los Angeles in 2017, after spending the previous 56 years in San Diego, 121 miles (194 kilometres) down the Southern California coast.

However the Chargers' relocation has proven to be deeply unpopular, with most Los Angeles fans identifying with the Los Angeles Rams franchise, shunning the new arrivals.

The Chargers play their games at the 27,000-capacity Dignity Health Sports Park, the home of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy.

However Chargers games at the venue often see home fans vastly outnumbered by supporters from visiting teams. A recent game against the Pittsburgh Steelers saw roughly 70% of the crowd decked out in Steelers colours.

The Chargers are due to switch venues in 2020, sharing the Rams' new $5 billion Los Angeles Stadium complex built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

However the Chargers have so far fallen short of projections of raising $400 million from the sale of personal seat licences (PSL) or debenture seats. Reports have said the team has only sold around $100 million worth of PSLs.

According to The Athletic, the Chargers' lukewarm reception in Los Angeles had prompted other NFL owners to consider helping the team with the expense of moving to London.

The possibility of an NFL team being based in London has been fuelled by the success of the league's international series, with four games being split between Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur's stadium in London this season.

However Chargers officials pointed out on Tuesday that the team had signed a 20-year lease to move into the Rams' new stadium next season, with the option extending for a further 20 years after that agreement expires.

"Dean has no intention of doing anything else other than building his fan base in LA," Chargers attorney Mark Fabiani told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"So that goes for London. That goes for any other city in the world. That goes for Mars and Jupiter and the moon. He's not considering anything else other than building the fan base in LA," Fabiani added.