Red Stars, Saints, Broncos Join IFFL

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IFFL solo logoIFFL – Rumors had persisted for months that the IFFL planned on expanding to include a Pacific-based third division and even involved a bit of a scandal with its rival World League when they were accused of trying to lure the WFL’s defending champion Los Angeles Dragons into the IFFL earlier this month.  In the email scandal, It appeared the IFFL was involved with contract tampering and was markedly tight lipped when it came to a response; issueing a statement that read, in part, “This is just the latest in a series of attempts by the World League to undermine our league…”

Doubt was cast on their denials of the rumors when the league released it’s 2016 draft order today and, with it, the slate of teams scheduled to play in the upcoming Chicago Red Starsseason, and there is no 3rd division and no expansion to 12 teams, but their does seem to be a decided shift by the league to move into the lucrative southern and eastern markets.  The World League, incidentally, has no presence further east or south than their Jerusalem franchise.

With the draft order release, the League stated, its Seattle franchise as well as both if its Greek clubs had withdrawn from play.  To replace them, 3 new franchises will be playing in 2016.  The Chicago Red Stars acquired the Seattle franchise early in the off season, on the strength of a contract with WGN to carry the league in their wide-ranging broadcast across middle America.

NZ, CapeThe withdrawal of the league’s two Greek teams, came unexpectedly, but the league moved quickly to place franchises south of the equator by giving franchises to the New Zealand Saints, and to group in Brazil.  They would joint the Perth Panthers who entered the League last season.  The Brazil deal ultimately feel through, but the league seemed to already have another franchise to fall back on, and signed the Santiago Rams into play.  That, too, fell apart, this time over a drafting conflict. It turns out, three’s a charm, as the IFFL entered into an agreement with the Cape Town Broncos.

In a divisional realignment,  the Panthers will move out of the old West Division and join a ready-made rival, the expansion New Zealand Saints, along Cape Town, to form a Southern Division, joined by the Mexico City Warriors, and the New Orleans VooDoo.  Chicago enters the league in an all new North Division with Charleston,  the British Isles teams, Cardiff and Scotland, and the defending 2015 Champion Venice Killer Whales.

According to a check of the updated league rules, regular season scheduling, although initially being changed, will keep its format of a league round robin combined with an in-division double round robin in Weeks 1-13.  There does however appear to be a change to the playoff format.  The post season will still consist of four finalists playing two, two-week matches in Weeks 14-17, however qualifying for the playoffs, and the bracket seeding will be much different, and, the league thinks, vastly improved.  the four playoff teams will now be made up of the two Division Champions (by Week 13 Standings), a Standings Wild Card (3rd overall team in league-wide standings), and a Points Wild Card (the team with the highest season points total of the remaining 7 teams.  Those four teams will be seeded #1-#4 based on total regular season points – #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3 in round 1 – meaning it’s now possible for the championship game to be played by teams from the same division or that 3 of the 4 playoff teams could come from the same division.  The IFFL hopes this new format will be more conducive to having the best two teams play in the Championship after last season’s VooDoo made it there with a losing record.

Besides news of the new franchises, the League’s press release today included the 2016 draft order – no surprise there, as the league uses descending order of prior year’s regular season points total for determining draft order, and that rule has not changed.  With a season points total of 2647.00, Mexico City locked up the first overall pick.  Unfortunately for Red Stars fans, taking over Seattle’s franchise means taking over their last place finish and 10th draft spot.  On the other end of the spectrum, The Saints inherit the Wonders’ 2nd place draft spot, with Cape Town picking from the middle of the pack at NGC’s spot.  The full list is reproduced below.  The IFFL will hold their 3rd annual draft on Sunday, Sep 4 at 11:00 am EDT, and it promises to be lively as always.

2016 draft order