German Football League responds to launch of European League of Football

The board of the German Football League (GFL) has issued a statement in response to the announcement of the launch of a new, professional football league  – the  European League of Football, ELF.

As announced, the ELF will start with an eight team league in 2021, seven in Germany and one in Poland. Ultimately, according to the organizers, up to 20 teams across Europe are planned.

Carsten Dalkowski, Chairman of the GFL:

“Based on the experience we have gained in our sport over many years in Germany and Europe, we are skeptical in the short and medium term about the financial viability of a pure professional football league. There have been various attempts to do this in the past, all of which were not economically successful.”

In the meantime, the GFL sees the ELF as a competitor for players, sponsors, fans and venues who would like to act outside of the sport organized in clubs and associations. It is to be feared that the ELF would like to make use of the players and structures created by the German clubs.

GFL league board member Axel Streich:

“The ELF and its investors want to operate as a company outside of the sport organized in Germany and Europe. It is obvious that this approach focuses on making profit and not on promoting and developing the sport, its structures and its active athletes.”

Apparently the ELF plans to establish German franchise locations in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hildesheim / Hanover and Ingolstadt. It is assumed here that the structures created by the local GFL clubs will be used or even taken over. The Stuttgart Scorpions, for example, take a concrete position on their website and are planning to set up a franchise company in the capital of Baden-Württemberg.

GFL league board member Christoph Wolk:

“We can only warn that clubs are too naive to rush into this adventure. With all the opportunities that you as a club or player might see in the plans of the ELF, you shouldn’t lose sight of the risks and underestimate them. Ultimately, the existence of clubs that have grown and painstakingly built up over many years is at stake. ”

Axel Streich:

“It is well known that we have actively started to embark on a new and future-oriented path for the GFL. The aim is to make better use of the potential of the top league in German and European football and thereby create better conditions for our sport. Especially against this background, it is incomprehensible to us that the initiators of the ELF did not seek a conversation with us in advance.”

Despite all the differences, the GFL also sees synergy potential and in some cases even similar goals in the ideas of the ELF initiators. ‘If you want to lift it, you have to talk to each other.’

On October 11, 2020, the assembly of the Bundesliga clubs in the AFVD launched the GFL league board. This was done in coordination with the AFVD Presidium on the basis of a concept presented by the club representatives in the GFL League Directorate in September. The aim is to use the potential of the GFL1 and GFL2 significantly more in the future and to better market the GFL. The importance of the “flagship” of Football Germany is to be strengthened and they are to be given more responsibility and participation. This is done in analogy to many examples from other sports associations in Germany. The GFL league board represents a transitional organization that is preparing the groundwork for the establishment of a working group of GFL clubs as a legally independent organization connected to the AFVD.

With this, it would appear that the new league is not being met with welcoming arms everywhere in Europe.

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