ELF will stay at 17 teams for 2024 season, Madrid Bravos in, Leipzig Kings out

The European League of Football announced on Monday that 17 teams, including the 16 teams that finished the season last year and the expansion Madrid Bravos, will compete in the 2024 season.

The league also entered last season with 17 teams but finished with one fewer as the Leipzig Kings folded in the middle of the season due to financial issues.  While it has been speculated that the Kings may return in the future, it will not be in 2024.  That gap will be filled by Madrid, which was officially granted a team back in May.  The expectation at that time was that the Madrid franchise would be joined by other expansion teams in 2024, but Monday’s announcement confirmed that there will only be one franchise added this offseason.  The lack of other expansion teams is something that the league and its fans are likely disappointed in, but it seems to be the best option at this time.

The league reiterated that expansion would still be coming in 2025.  In the past, it was theorized that the league would expand to 24 teams by 2025, but that seems highly unlikely now.  Locations that have been rumored to be given teams include London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Stockholm, but we will have to wait at least another year to see the league expand to such new markets.

Perhaps there were groups who had some interest in forming expansion teams in 2024, but wanted to wait at least a year, considering the financial uncertainty that some teams have had in the league.  The league has already lost two teams, the Istanbul Rams and the Leipzig Kings, and others have had public financial issues.  The most notable of these are the Prague Lions, who had to cancel multiple games in their first season of play in 2023.  As such, 2024 will be an important season for the league to prove that their ideal model is sustainable.

Commissioner Patrick Esume shared his thoughts on this decision in a press release. 

“Before the league is further increased for the 2025 season, we will use the coming year to further educate and train our referees and improve standards in all relevant areas of the ELF.”

Esume also emphasized that the league will work to expand their current reach in Europe, particularly in non-German countries that have teams.

“With this, we want to promote the competitive balance within the league.” 

In its three seasons, the ELF has been mostly dominated by German and Austrian teams.  Every champion so far has been a German or an Austrian team, and all four semifinalists this season were from those countries.  Hopefully, teams from other countries (including Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) can become more competitive going forward.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.