Mark Waller: NFL team more realistic for London residency than NBA

Los Angeles Rams played against Arizona Cardinals at Twickenham in 2017. AP Photo/Matt Dunham

NFL International vice-president Mark Waller has said he would be surprised to see a permanent NBA team in the UK and believes a London-based NFL franchise to be a more realistic concept.

In a similar fashion to the NFL -- which has hosted at least one match in the UK every year since 2007 -- games at London's O2 Arena have been a regular part of the NBA calendar since 2011.

In the spectacle's most recent installment, the Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 114-103 in the capital on Thursday night.

While there has been talk of an NBA team moving across the pond full-time, recent indications suggest that such a relocation could be a long way off and Waller believes a London-based NFL franchise is much closer.

"I'm not surprised the NBA are moving further away from putting a franchise in London," Waller said.

With the NBA's packed schedule -- requiring each team to play 82 games and multiple match-ups a week -- Waller added his belief that NFL would be much better-placed to establish a franchise in London from a logistical standpoint.

"Their season is a fundamentally different construct," he continued. "The beauty of our season is that we play once a week and we only play 16 games, so we're able to contemplate something as audacious as putting a team in London.

"For the NBA with the number of games it has and the number of games it plays on consecutive days, it would be physically impossible and actually irresponsible to contemplate putting a team in the UK.

"We are probably the only professional sports league in the world that could contemplate this sort of thing because of the construct of the season we have."

Waller's comments came at the announcement of this year's NFL London Games on Thursday, where the league confirmed it would be returning to a three-game schedule for 2018.

Despite showcasing one match fewer than last season, Waller highlighted that the concept of playing all three games in consecutive weeks -- a first for the International Series -- could provide a good indication of the UK's suitability to host a franchise.

"We wanted to do three games back-to-back-to-back," he said after the reveal. "It's another test for us and it's something we've not done before.

"If we were ever to put a franchise in the UK we would need to know that we can do consecutive weekends, so it's a great way to test that."