ELF: A rebirth of the NFL Europe clubs?

The European League of Football (ELF) is in the starting blocks and intends to kick off its inaugural season in the Summer of 2021.

Spearheaded by SEH Sports & Entertainment Holding, a company founded by Zeljko Karajica, the former managing director of German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, the ELF has plans to expand to 20 teams across 10 countries following its inaugural season in 2021. The ultimate goal of this European ‘Super League’ is to fill the professional void left when NFL Europe folded back in 2007.

The ELF has identified and announced club homes in eight markets. Germany will dominate the early iterations of the ELF with franchises in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hildesheim/Hanover and Ingolstadt. The remaining two spots belong to international markets, Wrocław (Poland) and Barcelona (Spain).

Almost as interesting is the slow unveiling of names for the different teams. Four have been determined and made public: Ingolstadt Praetorians, Stuttgart Scorpions, German Knights 1367 Niedersachsen and Wroclaw Panthers.

The remaining un-announced club names have a coincidental similarity; they are all markets of defunct NFL Europe clubs.

Registered trademark holders

Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Barcelona (Spain) all await christening.

It would seem that there will be a re-emergence of the NFL Europe’s Hamburg Sea Devils and Berlin Thunder. SEH Sports & Entertainment Holding in Hamburg (the founders of ELF) has registered the trademarks “Hamburg Sea Devils” and “Berlin Thunder” in the German Patent and Trademark Office register.

So far the names Barcelona Dragons and  Frankfurt Galaxy, also both former NFL Europe teams, have not been registered.

Return of the Galaxy?

In Frankfurt, it is clear that the former managing director and patron of the Universe, Alexander Korosek, is fully involved in the ELF. His announcement as General Manager of the ‘Frankfurt Football Team’ is perhaps only a placeholder until terms have been reached for the legacy Galaxy franchise tag.

The Frankfurt Galaxy were four-time NFL Europe champions, from 1995 to 2007.

Dragon Fire

The final club name to be announced would be Barcleona, which has a strong affiliation with the Dragons.

Indeed, ELF Commissioner Patrick Esume has already confirmed that the Dragons name was a factor.

“The choice of our locations is of course a key factor for us – and Barcelona was on our wish list from the very beginning,” he added.

“This franchise meets all the criteria regarding the city and possible venues, but also the economic power. Barcelona was a founding member of the NFL Europe with the Dragons, has a long football history and therefore has great fan potential. We are happy that we have come to an agreement.”

Although the ELF is totally un-affiliated with the NFL or NFL Europe, it would seem that the new league has more than just a passing interest in these ghosts of “Football Past” in Europe.

John McKeon
John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.
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