On Friday, the European League of Football made a significant announcement regarding changes to the league’s conferences and how these altered conferences will change how teams can qualify for playoffs during the 2022 season.
For the 2022 season, the European League of Football will have 12 teams operating out of 3 conferences. The Northern Conference, the Central Conference, and the Southern Conference.
The Northern Conference will be home to the Berlin Thunder, Hamburg Sea Devils, Leipzig Kings, and Wroclaw Panthers, making it the only conference in which every team participated in the league’s 2021 inaugural season. The Central Conference will hold the Frankfurt Galaxy, Swarco Tirol Raiders, Stuttgart Surge, and the Vienna Vikings. Lastly, the Barcelona Dragons, Düsseldorf Rhein Fire, Istanbul Rams, and the Cologne Centurions will reside within the Southern Conference.
The playoff format will remain the same with 2 semi-final games, followed by the Championship game. However, qualifications to make the playoffs will be changing due to the addition of the Central Conference. Teams that will qualify to make the playoffs in the ELF’s 2022 season will be the 3 Conference winners, along with whichever 2nd place team has the best overall record in any Conference.
During their inaugural season in 2021, the European League of Football hosted only 8 teams operating out of a Northern and Southern Conference, but with the announcement earlier this year of 4 additional teams getting added for the leagues 2nd season, it was only a matter of time until we heard about changes to the league’s conferences in some regard.
Commissioner Patrick Esume has made his excitement for the changes known, stating,
“I am convinced that a fascinating season with a great line-up lies ahead of us, the quality will increase once again. Rhein Fire is another brand coming back from the NFL Europe that has loyal follower to this day and has great potential. The Vikings and the Raiders are the best that Austrian football has to offer. Istanbul is a world metropolis, the Rams a grown organization. We are totally happy.”
Additionally, the European League of Football’s CEO Zeljko Karajica recently made comments as to why the league ultimately decided to go with 12 franchises for the 2022 season rather than continuing to add more, stating,
“We are very happy with our field of participants. The interest after the first season was very high, we held intensive talks until the end, but in the end we made the decision to complete the first expansion stage as originally planned. Of course, the temptation has been great, but it doesn’t always make sense to overtake yourself”
While the European League of Football is likely to continue exploring additional options at expansion for future seasons, for now, the league is being rightfully cautious and making sure they grow at a manageable pace.