International League Delays Debut : Football: ILAF cancels season that was to open next month in Europe, blaming lack of preparation time.

From Associated Press

The International League of American Football, scheduled to debut in Europe next month, today canceled the season because of problems such as arranging work permits for players, league spokesman Steve Gerrish said.

“I don’t think it was a lack of preparation, but things we couldn’t foresee in logistics and paper work,” Gerrish said. “We couldn’t foresee it would take so long to get those things done.”

Gerrish predicted that the ILAF will be ready to begin play in 1991, the same year as the NFL-sponsored World League of American Football. Each ILAF team is to be made up of 24 European and 12 American players. WLAF teams will feature mostly Americans and serve as an NFL farm league.

The 96 American players and 24 American coaches hired by the league, including former New York Jets Coach Walt Michaels in Helsinki and former Stanford Coach Jack Elway in London, will receive a financial settlement and be offered jobs for 1991, Gerrish said.


The ILAF originally planned to open the 1990 season with eight teams, but scaled back to six teams in early February when conflicts with soccer’s World Cup forced teams in Rome and Milan to skip the season.

The ILAF had reached a sponsorship agreement with the Wilson sporting goods firm about two weeks ago and just this Monday had issued a revised schedule for its six other teams in London, Munich, Barcelona, Helsinki, Amsterdam and Birmingham, England.

Gerrish said in a telephone interview from league headquarters in Amsterdam that a shortage of time, not money, prompted the cancellation.

In addition to difficulty in obtaining work permits for the 12 American players and three American coaches hired for each team, Gerrish said the league encountered delays in incorporating teams and arranging television contracts in Europe.


“There was a lack of time; that was the biggest thing,” Gerrish said.

“I think it was a smart business decision. I think that we can get a lot more support and exposure and just do ourselves a lot of good in terms of preparation.”

With its debut pushed back a year, Gerrish said the league hopes to open with 12 teams--the eight original clubs and four in cities yet to be selected--and expand to 16 clubs in 1993.