Growth in the European League of Football: Who’s next?

With the additions of Rhein Fire, Istanbul Rams, Swarco Raiders and the Dacia Vienna Vikings into the European League of Football (ELF), and the promise of more on the way, all eyes are now scanning the continent to see who’s next to join the league.

To make sense of all the rumors and hearsay, here at AFI we have created a purely speculative rundown of who the next team or teams could be.

London

During ELF’s inaugural season there were heavy hints (and outright statements) from Commissioner Patrick Esume that a London team would be next on the list – with the previous NFL Europe team, London Monarchs, being the obvious revival.

Since the early 00s football in the UK has experienced the Dark Ages. Despite players like Efe Obada and Jack Crawford having made legitimate careers in the NFL, the sport remains underground. The NFL’s International Pathway Program has started to change that though and brought international attention along with it, giving the UK football scene a much needed high-dosage shot of HGH.

It is for this reason that creating a team in London is an ideal choice but creating a team from scratch would prove difficult as the market is still unknown to the majority of the football community. It is for this reason that the Warriors, with the infrastructure and professional contacts already in place, would be the logical choice – along with Esume’s prior NFL Europe relationship with Warriors head coach Tony Allen.

But while the football community expected the London Franchise to be the first on the list of announcements, we were hit with radio silence from the UK, as well as a decrease in Esume’s teasing of a London team. With Esume stating that he wanted all new franchises announced by November, a London team is looking less likely unless we hear something within the next few weeks.

Paris

Paris was hardly ever in the conversation, but it is now storming to the front of the race with rumors of players signing to a Parisian team that isn’t the Flash. The city has a similar makeup and football scene to that of London. A high level of undiscovered athletes, a number of players in the collegiate system – bringing international attention to the country – and a thriving metropolis.

Although a franchise in Paris would seem to be an almost forgone conclusion, it is still a strong rumor only with its basis resting on the claims of only two players who say that they have signed for a French ELF team. Whether or not these claims turn out to be substantiated will come to light very soon.

Stockholm & Amsterdam

These two cities have always been on the table but have both consistently shown to have roadblocks.

Amsterdam seems to be a perfect spot for a franchise. It ticks off all the boxes; a new country, a strong market and former NFL Europe team (Admirals). But it shares a similar problem to that of Stockholm, a small top-heavy league. Both countries and football federations would suffer massively if they were to lose the few talented players they had to an ELF team (likely to what we are going to see with the Istanbul Rams).

Despite them being prime locations for an ELF team, it is unlikely (from this correspondent’s viewpoint) that either will be next on the list due to their domestic ties.

Regardless of who does or doesn’t join the league, the Imperial March has sounded in Europe – the European League of Football is coming. It’s rate of expansion has stunned most in a context that saw stagnation for so long. However you feel about ELF, it has shown us all one thing – European football has both the potential and desire for growth. It is now up to ELF and Esume to try and sustain it.

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He has played football for the London Warriors for the last 15 years as well as the