I catch up with the UKFL team after their exciting new announcement, to find out more about their vision for British American Football.
Tell us about the UKFL plans
‘We plan to launch the UKFL in May 2023 with 8 new teams strategically placed in locations that are most densely populated with suitable stadia to provide a full game day experience. We hope to expand to 12 teams as soon as is sensible to do so.
The player experience is a big part of what we want to do at UKFL. We want to create the best player experience in Europe by providing medical support, fantastic player insurance and 5 star safety equipment to all players. All players no matter what contract they are on will not pay a penny in expenses as this will all be covered by the league.’
How did the concept of the UKFL come about?
‘After streaming a lot of British American Football Association (BAFA) National league games throughout 2018 and 2019 we felt that there was the potential to provide quality football that could be enjoyed both nationally and internationally. We feel this would be a huge win for the UK game as a whole whilst also capitalising on the success of the NFL London games, bringing new fans to the British game.
Currently, the UK is the only major European country that doesn’t have a Semi Professional league and we want to give British players the opportunity to play at one of the highest levels in Europe without having to travel abroad.’
How will you recruit players?
‘We plan to hold regional training camps in the UK and US from mid-2022 onwards. It is here that we’ll select the best players. However, players can register now so that when we have the camp dates, we can contact them in good time.’
How will you relate to today’s fans and keep your approach fresh?
‘All of our game day planning and digital programming is based around getting fans engaged with the league, the teams, the coaches, the players – we want them to have UKFL as part of their daily engagement.
We will also be running fantasy football which we hope will bring a whole new level of fan engagement to the British game.
Another massive part of the fan experience is that all of the teams will have stadia that can provide the best gameday experience, this includes tailgating [the opportunity to party and socialise prior to heading into the stadium to watch a game], half-time entertainment, hospitality and catering.
We already have UKFL merchandise for sale on our online store and, come the start of the league each team will have a dedicated online page to buy merchandise.’
How are you going to decide what to call the teams?
‘We will only name the teams when we have identified the stadiums and cities that they will be playing in. We hope to engage with fans in this whole process.’
In your marketing video you state you are going to give imports the best care and experience. What does this mean?
‘It means many things for all players, not just the imports. All players will play for free – some will get expenses, and some will be paid. Further to this, all players will have 5-star safety equipment at no cost to them, they will be covered by a fully inclusive insurance policy (that will include loss of earnings for the ones still needing to work), have access to private medical insurance and imports will have good quality accommodation close to the stadia.’
Do you envisage the contracts to last a single year or several years? Will there be scope for team trades?
‘We expect players to play for several years – yes. We will hold a draft of the import players each year with teams allowed to trade or “franchise” a player if they choose to.’
If you hit all your targets (including profitability), what’s the next step? Introduction of more teams? Flag football? A women’s league?
‘It’s too early to say really – we have already mentioned going to 12 teams but anything else after that is really too early to predict.’
Tell us about your teams previous involvement in football.
Mick Tyler – ‘Currently in his second spell of British American Football re-joining in 2012 after 15 years of focussing on his career and bringing up children. In his first stint he was part of the management team at Leicester Panthers. Most recently he was Director of Newcastle Vikings.’
Jonathan Rooney – ‘As a coach, Jonathan’s track record is excellent including representing Great Britain as a coach, a National Championship in 2018 with the Durham Saints and working as a National Coach Educator for the British American Football Coaching Association. Jonathan has previously spent a year travelling and learning as an American Football Coach. During this year he worked in high school, collegiate and professional teams which include Concord High School, NC, Mississippi State University, MS and Cleveland Gladiators OH.’
David Robson – ‘David has been volunteering at the Northumberland Vikings since 2018 as their website developer. In addition to this, he created Vikings TV to try and increase the popularity and online footprint of British American Football. David was brought into UKFL as Technical Director to bring his fresh ideas and technical knowledge.’
How can potential investors get in touch with UKFL?
Thanks to the UKFL team for answering my questions. I wish you luck with your plans.
For more information about UKFL find their website here.