Berlin Thunder and Cologne Centurions compete in the European League of Football – Leipzig Kings become a new franchise
Around three months before kick-off on 20 June, the European League of Football has a surprise ready: With Berlin Thunder and the Cologne Centurions, two more teams from the former NFL Europe are returning to the big stage. In addition, the Leipzig Kings will compete in their premiere season. Hannover and Ingolstadt, on the other hand, will not be taking part in 2021.
The line-up of the new league with eight teams from three nations is now fixed: In addition to the franchises from the capital, with new, strong shareholders, the Rhine metropolis and Saxony, the Hamburg Sea Devils and Frankfurt Galaxy are two fan favourites from NFL Europe times. They will be joined by the Stuttgart Scorpions, the Panthers Wroclaw from Poland and the Barcelona Gladiators from Spain.
"After we were able to reach an agreement with the National Football League and reach an agreement on the use of the team names, the way was paved for Thunder. We are proud to have Berlin as the location of our league from the very beginning," says Zeljko Karajica, CEO of the European League of Football as well as managing partner of SEH Sports & Entertainment Holding.
The participation of the Centurions and the Kings also fulfils two wishes: "It is no secret that we had Cologne and Leipzig on our list right at the beginning of the planning. We have worked intensively on this over the past weeks, held trusting talks and are very happy to be able to present the Centurions and the Kings in the European League of Football," says Karajica.
For league commissioner Patrick Esume, the Thunder and Centurions bring back memories of his own time in NFL Europe. "When I was on the line with the Sea Devils, we had some thrilling duels. Berlin and Cologne are cities with a long-lasting football history and, of course, with target groups of fans who have waited 14 years for this moment - and additionally I also see a great potential with Leipzig as a new franchise location."
Coach Esume is already looking forward to the start of the first season in the European League of Football in June. "The expectation is huge. With Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Barcelona and Wroclaw, we have a very attractive field of participants. I expect all teams to play at a high level and expect exciting duels at eye level," the Commissioner looks ahead.
Football fans in the stadiums, but also at home in front of their screens, will be able to see this for themselves. With Pro Sieben MAXX, the European League of Football has a strong TV partner at its side: 13 games will be broadcasted live, including of course the Bowl on 26 September, when the first champion will be determined. Further games and highlights can be seen in the stream at ran.de.
The German Knights 1367 Niedersachen and the Ingolstadt Praetorians will not be part of the opening game of the new league as originally planned. Cologne Centurions and the Leipzig Kings will move into the 2021 line-up instead.
A statement from the German Knights 1367 Niedersachsen reads: "SEH Sport Beteiligungs- GmbH, Hamburg, and American Sport Sale and Management GmbH, Hildesheim, are discontinuing their negotiations on the conclusion of a (bilateral) franchise agreement for a professional American football league in Europe. This means that the European League of Football starting in June 2021 will take place without the German Knights franchise from Hanover. Both companies express their appreciation and regret the failure of the negotiations. No further statements will be made on the reasons."
A statement from the Ingolstadt Praetorians reads: "The European League of Football season starting in June 2021 will take place without the Ingolstadt Praetorians. SEH Sport Beteiligungs-GmbH, Hamburg, and IN-Herofactory Sportainment GmbH, Ingolstadt, were unable to reach an agreement for the planned playing season. This means that the negotiations on the participation of a team from Ingolstadt have failed. Both parties regret this, but would like to clearly emphasize that the Ingolstadt location is important for American football and the European League of Football and that talks for the 2022 season will be resumed at a later date."