How a US investor saved Czechia’s premier American football team

Move over, Ted Lasso! A new American owner swoops in to bring Prague’s top US-rules football team back from the brink.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 10.05.2024 17:00:00 (updated on 11.05.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

Could American football be the next big thing in the Czech sporting world? It might seem unlikely at first glance, but the revival of the Prague Lions, the country’s premier U.S. football team, has all the hallmarks of a fairytale.

The club, which plays in the European League of Football (ELF), the only pan-European American football league, faced severe financial difficulties last year. Left at one point with no choice but to forfeit a game due to an inability to make ends meet, the Lions looked on the brink of extinction.

Now, however, the club has been given a new lease of life by, it’s safe to say, an unlikely cast of characters. Mason Parker, an American investor raised in Texas who fell in love with the Prague Lions last year, has been supported by heavy metal band Mötley Crüe’s frontman Vince Neil, National Football League wide receiver DeVante Parker, and other big-name US investors in keeping the club alive, together committing a total of nearly USD 2 million.

Coach Mason Parker
Coach Mason Parker

With Prague Lion’s 2024 ELF season kicking off on May 26 at FK Viktoria Žižkov stadium, the club has a new owner, a new strip, a new head coach, and exciting new signings. So, why are big-name American investors taking such an interest in the Lions' fate? And could the club become “Wrexham 2.0” – another plucky European sporting underdog brought to the world’s attention by American stars?

US intervention saves the day

Speaking to, Mason Parker explains how he learned of the Lions’ financial woes during a visit to Prague in 2023. The club was playing its first season in the ELF, having previously participated in the Czech national league.

“I called my investment partners and proposed that we put some capital in, that we put ourselves in a position to save the club should it fail. That’s what we did,” he explains. Parker brought the club’s plight and potential to the attention of celebrity colleagues and investment partners, who have stepped up to the plate ahead of the coming 2024 season with further investment.

Parker is motivated by his love of sport and the game’s strong potential in Europe. “I grew up in Texas, which has a football culture, and I’m a fan of the sport. It’s not just a good investment; it’s also fun, and it’s a great chance to spread the culture of American football in this country,” he says.

Calling US football’s Messi and Beckham…

Although still flying largely under the radar, American football is becoming one of Europe’s sporting success stories. ELF attendance figures more than doubled between 2022 and 2023, and the 2024 Championship Game will be played at VELTINS-Arena in Germany, which has a capacity of over 50,000 spectators. Czech fans can watch matches live on O2 TV Sport.

“I see a strong analogy with the growth of soccer in the U.S.,” Parker says. “I grew up playing soccer in the U.S. in the 1980s when it wasn’t a spectator sport so much as a youth-driven sport. I’m seeing the same thing here with U.S. football. In my lifetime, soccer in the US has grown from relative obscurity to extreme popularity.”

“The first big American names are already coming to Europe in a coaching capacity. Later, I think we’ll get a player like soccer star David Beckham, who went to the Major League Soccer division in the twilight of his career. Then, we’ll start attracting American stars in their careers’ prime.”

The Prague Lions
The Prague Lions

Putting on a show

For Parker, creating an entertaining spectacle at the Lions’ home games in Prague is key, especially after last season’s poor performances, which saw them lose every game.

“We need to put on a good show,” he says. “For the coaches, when there’s a game, one wins and loses. For the owners, it’s not like that right now: we want to increase the game’s credibility in Europe and are committed to working together.”

“We’ve done very well at recruiting,” Parker adds. “We have four American imports and six EU import slots, and we’ve used all four US slots for impactful players, including a quarterback with great passing stats named Karé Lyles. Coach Disch has hand-curated our defensive team, including Daniel Wright, a defensive back who started at the University of Alabama under Nick Saban and is considered one of the best football coaches ever. We’ve built a team that has great potential.”

Along with U.S. and EU imports, ELF teams must recruit a certain proportion of “homegrown” players. Prague Lions, the only Czech or Slovak ELF participant, can draw on Czechs and Slovaks for their homegrown slots.

Putting on a show

For Parker, American football’s growth in Czechia is a long-term project. “I often say: our best Czech player is currently 10 years old. Hopefully, he’ll come to a game this season and be inspired. We’ll create some excellent athletes if we get enough of those kids in.”

“Families should come to our games and enjoy a great day out. It’s a whole experience and different to the U.S., where everything is so expensive. It’ll be great for those summer weekends when kids are out of school, and the weather’s good,” he adds.

“It’s on us and the other teams in the league to push the culture of the sport out of the big cities and into the villages,” Parker says. “It was the same process in the U.S. with soccer's growth. It was first popular in the big cities and international settings, and then it became popular outside the big cities, too.”

Follow the Prague Lions on Facebook and Instagram, or buy tickets to a match here.

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