Scottish NFL punter Jamie Gillan has backed the idea of an American Football franchise in the United Kingdom.
Gillan, who grew up in Inverness and played rugby for Highland RFC, believes it would give UK-based players a greater opportunity to play the sport.
Last month the LA Chargers had been mooted as a potential franchise that would relocate to London and be the NFL’s first overseas team.
However, team owner Dean Spanos soon quashed the idea, with the Chargers only two years on from moving from San Diego.
Interest stems from the success of International Series games played in the UK since 2007. Wembley Stadium held all overseas games until 2016, when Twickenham was used, and latterly the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosted its first game in October.
Gillan, who is from a military family that moved to Maryland when he was 16, was signed by the Cleveland Browns this summer and is in the running for a Pro Bowl spot, where the league’s best players are chosen by vote to play an all-star game at the end of the season.
He said: “I think if the UK was to get an NFL team, it would be really good.
“I think they could make a lot of money through that.
“Also, I think it would open a lot more doors for guys in the UK, to play football and see what it’s like. I think you’d have a good fanbase and it would be a fun game for any away team coming to the UK to play against whichever team it would be here, so I think it’d be good.”
Gillan, who also attended Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh and has family in the north of Scotland, retains a huge affinity for his home country.
In the NFL, he is known as “the Scottish Hammer” a nickname given to him by his high school coach Brian Woodburn.
He added: “What I miss about Scotland is the culture sometimes. I miss my family, I haven’t been home in about four years now.
“I miss being able to walk everywhere and not having to rely on a car to get everywhere; a good bus system; good pubs, good pub food. I miss watching rugby. There’s a lot of stuff I miss about it, but I’m enjoying my time in America right now.”
Gillan is coming to the end of his rookie season in the NFL, with the Browns sitting third in their division, the AFC North.
Their record of five wins and seven losses ranks them outsiders to make the play-offs.
Gillan has been taken aback by the level of preparation that goes into scheming for a game.
He said: “What surprised me most about the NFL was how many hours are put into each position group. So when you’re playing rugby, a fly-half maybe has a few plays in their playbook that they go off, but it’s much more of a free-flowing game in the NFL.
“You see the hours that people like Baker (Mayfield, quarterback) put in and how much meeting time they have, how much film they watch, how many plays they’ve got to remember.
“You’re in six days a week and for at least eight hours a day, just doing everything you can – not me because I just punt a ball – but the guys who actually do a job on the field.
“So I think that’s the craziest part for me, how much time everyone puts in to try to learn their position and beat the other team.”