ELF Expansion: Austria on the horizon

Rumors of the European League of Football’s expansion have swirled for months as ELF commissioner Patrick Esume has been outspoken regarding his ambitions for adding future teams to Europe’s newest league. The most concrete evidence of ELF’s expansion plans came by way of a press conference held yesterday in Vienna, Austria.

Dacia Vienna Vikings head coach Chris Calaycay and team president Karl Wurm spoke at a press conference addressing the team’s potential 2022 entry into the European League of Football. The idea of a Vienna-based team has been rumored for some time now as ELF commissioner Esume has been publicly intrigued with Austria’s largest market (2 million inhabitants). Vienna team president Karl Wurm explains that the Vikings and ELF have been in contact for months.

Vienna Vikings President Karl Wurm Photo: Puls 24

Dacia Vienna Vikings team president Karl Wurm:

“We met with ELF in Munich several months ago, the meetings were intriguing to both sides as the ELF knows that Vienna would be a very interesting location and the Vikings a very interesting partner. Following the initial meeting, we had several telephone conferences, and contracts were sent. “ (Translated from German)

Vikings head coach Chris Calaycay also commented on the possibility of his team in the ELF:

“Of course nothing is set, nothing is has been signed, but the characteristics are there. We are doing our homework on what would be best for the Vikings, football in Austria, our players, our team. The European League of Football has a product that is very attractive and new. It would be fantastic if we could compete.” (Translated from German)

As far as the timing of a decision, president Karl Wurm stated that the Viking’s would have a firm decision sooner rather than later:

“Currently we have everything we need to make a decision. We want to take our time and calmly think about the decision within the next 14 days. If we want to take this big step into a professional league with our team or not.” (Translated from German)

Swarco Raiders next?

While it would seem that the departure of the Vienna Vikings would leave the Swarco Raiders as favorites to win the league again, they too are apparently seriously considering the jump to the ELF.  In fact, according to one player who wishes to remain anonymous, he was contacted by a Raiders staff member and asked if he was interested in coming back next year to play in the ELF season. So it would seem that the decision has already been made in Innsbruck.

Vikings Head Coach Chris Calaycay addresses the media Photo Credit: Puls 24

The Tirol Tageszeitung, a local Austrian newspaper, has also laid out scenarios of an ELF team in Innsbruck. They argue that the Raiders could join ELF and allow their second team to compete in Austria’s top league. The Tirol newspaper goes on to claim that this would make the most sense fiscally, expressing the idea that fans would lose interest in an Austrian Football League without the Raider’s fiercest competitor.

Vikings Coach Chris Calaycay also commented on what the league would look like without its two marquee teams:

“It would even out the Austrian Football League, new teams joining Austria’s top league such as the Salzburg Ducks, the Amstetten Thunder, and our second team.  The league would have a better chance of having a more evenly competitive league, instead of always having Vikings versus Raiders final.” (Translated from German)

Vienna President Karl Wurm offered comfort to AFL fans that the Vikings would certainly play some version of their team in the Austrian Football League next season. While another higher-level team within the Vikings franchise would hypothetically join the ELF.

“The Dacia Vienna Vikings will without a doubt play in the highest level of football in the Austrian league period. It is unthinkable to do otherwise. This is because we feel that we have a strong responsibility to the Austrian league.” (Translated from German)

Overall Vikings president Karl Wurm remains highly optimistic about Vienna’s chances of joining the European League of Football.

“It is a risk. It is a new project, it’s exciting. It could go wrong but we will do everything that we can have Austria and Vienna enter this league under the right circumstances.” (Translated from German)

One certainty of the upcoming offseason in Europe is that the rumors of ELF expansion are far from over. In Austria’s case, losing one or both of its top teams would have a ripple effect on the entire country’s football landscape.

Watch the press conference here

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and