Opinion: The Miami Dolphins Are Headed Back To London – But At...

Opinion: The Miami Dolphins Are Headed Back To London – But At What Cost?

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(Ryan Tannehill signs a British Dolphins fans' jersey in London. Photo courtesy of CBS)

The Miami Dolphins (5-4) are headed to London again. The Dolphins will host the New Orleans Saints as part of the 2017 NFL International Series, according to Sky Sports. No date or time has been announced as of yet and the moving of a Dolphins home game is believed to be part of an agreement between Stephen Ross and the NFL in order to host Super Bowl LIV in 2020 in Miami.

The annual London games have now become a staple of the NFL, with games having been played in the UK for what will be the tenth year heading into 2017. The Dolphins have played three games in London so far, making them one of the most featured teams in the International Series. At present, the Dolphins are on a four game winning streak, the latest of which was a thrilling late win against the San Diego Chargers. Add that to the emergence of Jay Ajayi, a London-born running back, and this makes the Dolphins an ideal team to send to London to grow the NFL’s brand even further.

On the face of it, everything looks great for the Dolphins to be headed to London again. The Dolphins fanbase is huge in the United Kingdom and each Dolphins crowd at Wembley has been in excess of 80,000 people. One stumbling block for Fins fans back home in South Florida is the home game that is taken away from them. Bearing in mind that there are only eight home games per season anyway, not taking into account a possible playoff matchup, home games are at a premium in the NFL.

I spoke to Dolphins fan The Wubster (TW), a Miami Beach native, to understand how Miami-based Dolphins fans have taken the news. “For the last two out of four years Steven Ross has given up two home games to participate in the London games”, said TW. “London is fine as long it’s an away game and he is giving up too many concessions to Roger Goodell for a Super Bowl. It’s not in the best interests of the Dolphins fan base.”

TW continued: “I’m very happy more games are being played in London. I have many followers based in the United Kingdom who are Dolphins fans and I’m happy that they get a chance to see their team. My only objection is each year we play in London we give up a home game.”

This seems to be the feeling shared amongst Dolphins fans, one that was evident once the announcement was made last month. The anger is not towards UK-based fans, but the NFL and Steven Ross for moving games over there in the first place.

On the other side of the argument, Colin Cassell, admin of @MiamiDolphinUK, believes that the International Series games are a reward for the loyal support of Dolphins fans in the UK. “Although we have struggled over the past 15 years, the Miami fan-base is strong in the UK,” said Cassell. “Any trip to an International Series game will show you how well-loved the Dolphins are here , as there are plenty of those famous aqua jerseys among every crowd. The Dolphins were one of the two trail-blazers in 2007 to set the ball rolling for the International Series and to have them now visit London for a fourth time proves that the Dolphins organization truly value the fan base here.”

The 5-4 Dolphins are looking upwards after an uncertain start to the season, 1-4 after week five, the Fins have picked up the pace and have won four straight for the first time since 2008. Throw an emerging Ajayi into the mix and next season could be a mouth-watering prospect for Dolphins fans. Cassell admitted that he is looking forward to the return of the Dolphins, particularly because of their new-found form.

“This year started badly but the Dolphins are hopefully on the rise,” said Cassell. “London-born running back Jay Ajayi has given us a lot to cheer about in recent weeks. It is great to see the Dolphins become a team who can mix up the running game once again and in Adam Gase we have a coach for the future, who has shown he is happy to make ruthless decisions to improve the team by cutting ineffective players. He must be given time to build his own identity in Miami and I cannot wait to see the second year of that project take the field in London in 2017.”

Whatever side of the argument you occupy, we can all agree that next season will be interesting for the Dolphins fan, whether you live in Miami, or London.