“America’s NFL – Lessons in strategy for the English Premier League?”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Lecture Theatre 2 (Basement), The Cruciform Building  Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Wednesday  24th October 2007 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“America’s NFL – Lessons in strategy for the English Premier League?”

Given by: Dick Maxwell, former Senior Director of Broadcasting, the NFL.


American football is the most popular professional sport in the United States. Its elite division, the National Football League (NFL), is widely acknowledged as the most successful sports business globally. On the 28th October the NFL’s first regular season game in Europe takes place at Wembley Stadium between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants, bringing the full NFL sporting and business experience to London. The occasion offers the opportunity to reflect on just how the NFL has managed to achieve such exceptional business success.

Two English Premier League clubs have now been bought by owners of NFL teams; the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Glazer family, at Manchester United; Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner at Aston Villa. More generally, many sports business commentators have been suggesting that the English Premier League and its clubs could learn much about best business practice from their NFL counterparts.

In this guest lecture the NFL’s former Director of Broadcasting, Dick Maxwell, will outline the key elements of the NFL’s business strategy developed under the leadership of Commissioners Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue over the past five decades that have underpinned its extraordinary commercial success, notably the fact that most NFL teams are profitable at the pre-tax level in stark contrast to their Premier League counterparts. In particular he will focus on the NFL’s role as a collective seller, on behalf of its member teams, of merchandising and TV rights, and the place of this role in its wider business strategy.

He will conclude by making some observations as to what top flight UK and European professional sports organisations might learn from the experience of the NFL in terms of developing best business practice.


With 36 years of experience at all levels of the National Football League (NFL), Dick Maxwell is uniquely qualified to discuss the past, present and future business models of one of the world’s most successful sports organizations. Mr. Maxwell began his NFL career with the Denver Broncos in 1971 in the fields of public relations and promotions, followed in 1976 as the first Director of Public Relations for the then expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He joined the NFL headquarters in New York City in 1978 under Commissioner Pete Rozelle as Director of Information (NFC). Mr. Maxwell moved into the NFL’s television department in 1989 under Commissioner Paul Tagliabue where he was the day-to-day contact with the NFL’s TV rights-holders regarding game presentation subjects. He retired in the autumn of 2006 as NFL Senior Director of Broadcasting. Mr. Maxwell will work his 33rd consecutive Super Bowl for the NFL next February.

He was honoured by the League with the 2007 Val Pinchbeck Award for his work in supporting the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game, the NFL’s annual All-Star competition. A frequent lecturer at American universities, Mr. Maxwell and his wife of 33 years, Kendra, now reside in Southport, North Carolina. He is currently an NFL consultant in the areas of television and Instant Replay.


For further details on the Birkbeck Sports Business Seminar Series contact:

Sean Hamil

Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Email: or Tel: 020-7631 6763

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