ELF adds Milano Seamen, Fehérvár Enthroners, and Zurich for 2023

As the European League of Football’s second season approaches, commissioner Patrick Esume and CEO Zeljko Karajica held a pre-season press conference in Hamburg. The two casually chatted about tv partnerships and championship game plans for the first 15 minutes. Then, slowly, a noticeable grin came over Esume’s face as he dropped the most stunning news of the day.

Three new teams have agreed to join the ELF for the 2023 season. Commissioner Esume said it best himself.

“The beauty of our league is we are willing to grow together.”

Let’s take a look at the ELF’s newest teams:

The Milano Seamen (Italy)

The Milano Seamen have been rumored to be interested in joining the ELF for some time now. Those rumors grew as Esume visited Milan and seemed to strike a deal with the Seamen and the Italian Federation. The Milano Seamen have been one of Europe’s top 20 clubs in the last decade winning five Italian Bowl titles, including a three-peat from 2017-2019.

Led by head coach Stefan Pokorny and longtime quarterback Luke Zahradka, the Seamen have a great core of Italian veterans with championship experience ready to play in the ELF. Currently the Seamen sit atop the Italian league standings with an undefeated record.

Milan is of course a large city with 1.3 million inhabitants, giving the ELF another presence in a large metropolitan area. The Seamen also play in one of Milan’s Olympic stadiums which seats around 70,000 visitors.

Fehérvár Enthroners (Hungary)

Located 64 kilometers from the capital city of Budapest, the Enthroners are one of the top programs in Eastern Europe. The Enthroners finished last year as runner ups in the Hungarian Football League, after winning the title back in 2019.

Budapest gives the ELF another Eastern metropolis as the historical city has 1.7 million inhabitants. The Hungarian football scene has been making strides over the years and now has a chance to showcase it’s best players on a new stage. The Enthroners GM Viktor Bokar made it clear how much his program wanted to join the ELF:

“We are extremely excited; this is a real dream come true to join the ELF, the best league in Europe no doubt.”

Helvetic Guards (Zurich, Switzerland)

While the other additions to the league have established clubs stepping into the ELF, the Zurich agreement is a little vaguer. The ELF introduced Tony Zoller as the GM of the newly established Helvetic Guards.

“We will expand to Switzerland and have a franchise in Zurich.”

The Zurich Renegades are currently the top team playing in Switzerland’s capital. While Switzerland is not known for particularly strong football outside of the Calanda Broncos, setting up an ELF team in another capital city with 400k residents has positive business potential.

There are currently five American football clubs playing in the Zurich area, spreading out the city’s talent. So, a new team playing at a higher level may be able to attract the top talent in the area, and Switzerland for that matter.

While the new teams stole the show there were other key takeaways from the press conference:

Television Partnerships:

Ran Sport CEO Alex Rosner spoke early on in the press conference explaining his satisfaction with last year’s television ratings. He highlighted the an upward trend and a consistent viewing over over 100k viewers every Sunday.

In Austria, the ELF has reached a deal with PULS24 to show all Raiders Tirol and Vienna Vikings on television. In Turkey, the Istanbul Rams will play their games on the Turkish television channel S Sport.

Rosner expanded on TV coverage, stating that he hopes to integrate many of the NFL staff at his channel into the ELF’s coverage.

Karajica briefly touched on international streaming mentioning the ELF’s game pass as well as a deal with a streaming service in China.

The Championship Game:

The championship will take place in Klagenfurt, Austria this year on September 25th. Karajica announced that German pop stars Bausa and Reezy will perform a halftime show.

Esume and his staff sped through the press conference as everything wrapped up in under 45 minutes. As of now, 2023 will kick-off with 15 teams in eight countries. However, don’t expect the ELF stop growing as they reiterated a goal of 24 teams.  A master of media, commissioner Esume once again created a strong buzz about his league, with season two kicking off June 4th.

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football