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What You Should Know About The European League of Football (ELF)

General Info:

The European League of Football (ELF) is the first fully professional American football league in Europe since the fall of NFL Europe in 2007. The league will initially consist of 8 franchises located in Germany, Poland, and Spain, but there are plans to expand to at least 20 teams from 10 to 12 countries over the coming years.

Although the announcement was initially met with skepticism from many due to the failures of similar leagues in the past, commissioner Patrick Esume firmly believes this league will succeed due to a recent boom in popularity for American football in Germany.

The league’s goals are to bring back the excitement around American football that existed in the NFL Europe era. However, unlike NFL Europe, whose teams consisted of mainly American players, restrictions have been put in place to limit the number of international players allowed on a team’s roster.

The reasoning for this is to have the larger focus be developing local European players into NFL prospects. Additionally, League CEO Zeljko Karajica is convinced that the fans have a different connection to a franchise when you have local heroes on the team.

The ELF was officially founded in November of 2020 and is currently set to kick off its inaugural season on Saturday, June 19th, 2021, with the first championship game in Düsseldorf, Germany, at Merkur Spiel-Arena, on September 26th, 2021.

Rules:

Kurt Paulus is the ELF’s new Head of Officiating, and games will be played according to NFL rules. The exception will be overtime, which will use the NCAA’s overtime rules. There will be no coaches challenges due to their review system not being quite as advanced as the NFL’s system yet; however, they will expand the quality of the review system as the league grows.

Interview w/ ELF Commissioner Patrick Esume & ELF Head of Officiating Kurt Paulus

The league also recently signed a contract with the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). The NADA is already conducting comprehensive competition checks for the ELF and will continue to do so throughout the season. Regarding the partnership, ELF CEO, Zeljko Karajica, stated

“We are very happy that NADA will be at our side from the outset with its doping control system and the adoption of results management. Since the organization and implementation of fair, safe, and clean sport is one of the priority objectives of our league, the establishment of a transparent and consistent anti-doping system was beyond question from the outset,”

Roster:

ELF rosters will consist of a maximum of 60 players with a 5 man practice squad. Due to local players being the main focus of the league, there’s a limit set on the number of total foreign players allowed to sign with each team. They will be allowed to sign a maximum of 10 European players from outside the team’s home country and 5 non-European players. There will not be a draft, as Europe does not have high school and college football programs in the same structure as the United States.

Salary Cap:

There will be 2 kinds of salary caps in order to keep the league competitively balanced. The first is for American and foreign “import” players, while the other is for the local players.

NFL & ELF Cooperation:

The ELF received all of the rights to the names of the former NFL Europe franchises from the NFL. The cooperation with the NFL gives them no shares or other financial interests of the ELF to avoid the league’s potential collapse if the NFL decided to pull out of a deal where they were financially relied upon. The cooperation does allow ELF referees to exchange knowledge with the NFL, as well as the possibility of an ELF team holding a training camp with an NFL team and learning from them.

Teams:

For the 2021 season, the ELF will play in 3 countries with 8 teams in 2 divisions. However, the league plans to add at least 20 teams from 10 to 12 countries over the coming years. The plan is to add 4 new franchises every year, with announcements of the expansion teams coming around the time of the championship game.

North Division:

South Division:

Future Franchise Locations:

According to ELF commissioner Patrick Esume, the league has gained interest in Austria, Spain, France, and England. A specific team mentioned to have significant interest in joining the league is the London Warriors. In April 2021, GM of the Frankfurt Galaxy, Alexander Korosek, revealed that in addition to London, franchises in Istanbul, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Madrid are likely to be added within the next 2 years, while groups in Milan, Bucharest, Sofia, and Brussels are set to join at later dates.

Schedule:

The ELF will play a 10 game season over the span of 12 weeks, beginning on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Additionally, there will be 1 playoff game and 1 championship game, with plans to hold an “All-Star Game” before the Championship.

For the scheduling of the 2021 season:

  • Each team will play against every team in its division. One game at home and one on the road. (6 games)
  • Each team will play against two teams from the other division. One game at home and one on the road. (4 games)
  • The two best teams in each division will play each other to determine the division winner. (1 playoff game)
  • The division winners will meet in the Championship.

Link To Full Schedule

Championship Game:

The first championship game will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany, at Merkur Spiel-Arena on September 26th, 2021.

Merkur Spiel-Arena, Düsseldorf, Germany

How To Watch:

All of the ELF’s games will be available to stream worldwide on their website, with service provided by the British company StreamAMG. For the inaugural season, the ELF will also have 13 games, including the playoffs and championship broadcast live in Germany on the ProSieben Maxx network, with others available on ran.de (1 game per week on TV). The league has a multi-year plan to add more games to the German TV schedule each season, with every game set to be televised by 2025.

Regarding the ELF’s online presence, ELF CEO Zeljko Karajica stated

“I believe that by German and European standards, we will have a digital presence in football that you have never seen before. That means you can watch statistics, highlights, complete matches, archives, and not only live, but also matches that have already taken place.”

Tickets & Travel Packages:

The ELF has partnered with Ticketmaster as their official ticketing partner. A few games have tickets already available to purchase, but the majority have yet to be listed.

Travel packages are available through the league’s website as well. Currently, there are only packages available for games in Barcelona as well as packages for the Championship.

Merch:

Fan’s will find merch on the ELF’s website.

Miscellaneous:

  • The league announced an ELF-Academy in which talents will be scouted, promoted, and given an opportunity to take the next step in their football careers.
  • Nothing has been made official, but Netflix has interest in filming a documentary about the league.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Theodore King

    May 20, 2021 at 10:52 am

    The head coach of the Barcelona Dragons – Adam Rita – used to coach in the CFL

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