American Football: Monarchs return as the World League is reborn: Scottish team to join relaunched venture backed by Fox television. Matt Tench reports

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The Independent Online
THE London Monarchs, Britain's first professional American football team, came out of exile yesterday when the National Football League announced the relaunch of the World League of American Football. The Monarchs will be joined in the reformed league by a team from Scotland plus four others from Europe.

The World League was last heard of two years ago when it operated as a transatlantic competition involving three teams from Europe, six from the United States and one from Canada. The league, which began in 1991, lasted only two seasons because, though reasonably popular in Europe, it was perceived as second rate in America, a factor that resulted in dismal television ratings.

The Monarchs and the two other original European teams - the Barcelona Dragons and Frankfurt Galaxy - all have places in the reformed league along with three new ones, the Amsterdam Admirals, the Rhein Fire (based in Dusseldorf) and a team in Scotland.

The Scottish team has yet to acquire a name but will play its home matches at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby union. The Monarchs, who won the World League in its inaugral season, played their games at Wembley, but are unlikely to do so when the new season starts on 8 April next year.

Each team in the new league will play 10 games, five home and five away, with the regular season ending on the weekend of 10-11 June. The championship game will be contested the following weekend between the team with the best record after the first five weeks (which earns home advantage) and the best team over the second five weeks.

Squads will consist of 40 players, 32 Americans, a third quarterback and seven Europeans. Quarterbacks will earn a basic salary of dollars 20,000 ( pounds 13,000), kickers dollars 10,000 and other players dollars 15,000. The league itself, which will be based in London, will appoint all head coaches.

The reformed league is a dollars 40m joint venture between the NFL and Fox, the American television arm of Rupert Murdoch's multinational media empire, with an initial commitment of four years. Early this year Fox outbid its network rivals in the States to win the right to televise some of the NFL's most attractive games, and it will be a major surprise if the new league founders like its predecessor for the lack of television backing.