Leicester Panthers
LeagueBAFA National Leagues
DivisionPremier Division North
Team historyLeicester Panthers (1983–1996)
Leicester Falcons (2006–2023)
Leicester Panthers (2023–)
LocationLeicester, Leicestershire
StadiumAylestone Park F.C.
Head coachStuart Franklin
Division titles4: 2009, 2016, 2017, 2018
Playoff berths8: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022

The Leicester Panthers are an American football team based in Leicester, England, that competes in the BAFA National Leagues Premier Division North, the top level of British American football. Their current home ground is at Aylestone Park F.C., having previously played at De Montfort Park and Leicester Forest RFC.

The Panthers were originally formed in 1983 and played until 1996, before a new club the Leicester Falcons were formed ten years later in 2006. The Falcons men's team were four-time divisional champions, last winning a Division 1 National Championship in 2018 and a NFC1 South Conference Championship in 2022. Leicester Falcons Academy U16s and Leicester Falcons Women are also part of the club, while the academy field a U19s team in partnership with Rugby Rhinos AFC. In 2023 following the departure of general manager Guy Kersey, the team reverted to the Panthers name.


The Original Panthers

The Leicester Panthers were formed in 1983 and disbanded in 1996 who played home games at Saffron Lane sports centre. In the time they played, they recorded only one losing season, and won the league final in 1996, the year they dissolved the team. The club can boast Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton as their most famous alumnus, as he was the starting quarterback in the 1988 season.[1][2]

A number of original players from the Leicester Panthers, including rugby star Martin Johnson, who had played for the team in the early 1990s, Barry Driver, Charles Thompson and Neil Eastoll, reformed in 2007 to play a charity match against the Loughborough Aces for the Matt Hampson Trust; the Panthers won 20–3.[3]

Leicester Falcons

The Falcons were formed in 2006 by Chairman Guy Kersey and a nucleus of local players – After a 10-year absence of full-contact American Football in Leicester, following the disbanding of the Leicester Panthers. Named in connection with Leicester Eagles, the regional flag football team, the Leicester Falcons held their first training session at Belgrave Rugby Club on 19 March 2006. After two seasons of associate membership, the Falcons achieved full membership of the British American Football League prior to the 2008 season.

The Falcons' first season in BAFL Division 2 Central ended with a 3–5–2 record, under head coach Danny Gaunt.

The 2009 season proved to be much better, with a regular season record of 7–2–1. Lester Hopewell took over as head coach, and led the Falcons to a playoff place. In the playoffs the Falcons beat Manchester Titans and Glasgow Tigers to reach their first championship game.[4] In a tight game Leicester Falcons defeated Colchester Gladiators 33:32 to become the BAFL Division 2 Champions for 2009.[5] This also secured promotion for the Falcons to play in BAFA Community Leagues Division 1.

The 2010 season contained a number of highlights. The team celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Leicester charity LOROS by holding their league match against Birmingham Bulls at the Welford Road ground of Leicester Tigers.[6] To crown the day the Falcons won a well-fought game to claim their first victory of the season 22–15.[7] To bolster the team for the second half of the season the team signed ex-NFL quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, who had previously played for Denver Broncos and subsequently Houston Texans. This had the desired effect and helped an improving team to win its next four matches and secure a wildcard place in the 2010 season play-offs. Despite having a weakened team the Falcons made the number 1 seeded team, East Kilbride Pirates, work very hard to secure their place in the semifinals; the Falcons lost a close fought game by only two points.

Following a realignment of the teams in BAFACL Division 1 the Leicester Falcons played in the Central Conference in 2011. This proved to be a successful season for the Falcons, who finished top of the conference with a 9–1–0 record. However, in a controversial ending to the season, BAFANL stripped the Falcons of the conference title and deducted one game after being found to have not followed proper transfer procedure in the transfer of Jason Brisbane.[8] The Falcons therefore entered the playoffs as the #4 seed. In the playoffs, the Falcons beat Doncaster Mustangs in the quarterfinals, before a famous upset win against top seeds London Olympians in the semifinal, to set up a rematch with East Kilbride Pirates at Britbowl XXV. This ended in a 62–23 defeat.

Following a divisional restructure, BAFA confirmed that the Falcons would be promoted to an expanded Premier Division for 2012, and will play in the Premier Division North. The Falcons began the season with two wins and a loss, before a controversial match against Doncaster Mustangs. Leicester won the match, but the result was overturned after BAFA determined the Falcons had fielded ineligible players. The fallout from this led to numerous players leaving, and the Falcons had to forfeit their remaining games. As a result, both head coach Stuart Franklin and interim GM Colin Branagh left their positions. The only Falcons organisation team to complete their season were the U16 youth team, who finished their inaugural season with a credible 3–9–0 record.


Following the Falcons' relegation from the Premier League after the previous season's ordeals, the Falcons organisation took a step back and began to rebuild their team from the ground up. Following ex-chairman Guy Kersey's departure to the US, Saul Freer took over as the club's chairman and began a second stint as head coach of the team, leading a new player-run committee including long standing players and coaches Karl Burgess, Richard Swain and Tom McCormick. The club at this time took a vote to remain as the Falcons, or revert to the Panthers, and at this time the membership decided to stay as the Falcons.

The new-look team, consisting mainly of rookie players, won their first game against Crewe Railroaders 34–26. The 2013 was a season of ups and downs, with an inexperienced squad the team played with a level of inconsistency, beating a number of teams handily, but managing to lose against some of the more experienced teams by large margins.

The 2014 season saw the Falcons continue to field a young team, who had an inconsistent start to the season before finishing the season with a 3-game win streak, clinching hard-fought wins against long-standing rivals the Shropshire Revolution, Crew Railroaders and Lincolnshire Bombers to finish the season 6–4, just missing out on the play offs despite a late surge.

The 2015 season saw the return of Guy Kersey and Head Coach Lester Hopewell, as well as a move to a new home ground, Leicester Road Stadium at De Montfort Park, Hinckley.[9][10] The Falcons qualified for the playoffs with a 7–3–0 regular season record, before succumbing to a 21–6 defeat to the Sandwell Steelers.[11]

Following a return to the playoffs in the 2015 season, the Falcons carried that momentum through the 2016 season, achieving an undefeated 10–0–0 regular season, leading the country in both points scored (497) and conceded (21). With home field advantage, the Falcons defeated division rivals Staffordshire Surge 60–0 and the Chester Romans 58–29 earning them a spot in the NFCII bowl game on 11 September. Travelling to Leeds to take on the second seeded Newcastle Vikings, Leicester rode out 36–0 winners, securing their 9th shutout victory of the season and completing the perfect record of 13–0–0. The team earned promotion and competed in Division 1 for the 2017 season, setting up local rivalries with the likes of Sandwell, Birmingham and Coventry. With Noel Cassar taking over as Head Coach, the Falcons dominated NFC1 South, finally overcoming their bogey team Sandwell Steelers and beating local rivals Coventry Jets and Nottingham Caesars on their way to a 9–1–0 regular season record. However, their season ended in the playoff semifinals as Manchester Titans visited Leicester Road and came away with a 27–21 victory.

The 2018 season proved to be one of their best. The Falcons carried on their dominance in the NFC1 South, going unbeaten throughout the season and won their first Division 1 title with a 36–29 victory over Kent Exiles, a second unbeaten season in three years. This ensured the Falcons returned to the top tier of football in 2019, however this was short lived; with the existing Premiership teams holding a meeting with BAFA and refusing to play due to not wanting to play against some of the Americans that the Falcons roster had, BAFA instituted a rule a few weeks before the season effectively removing a number of starters from the Flacon's roster, they were subsequently narrowly relegated with a 2–8–0 record (just one tie behind Sheffield Giants' 2–7–1 record).

Following a year without football in 2020, the Falcons signed former Nottingham Hoods quarterback and NAIA National Championship-winning Head Coach Mike Grossner to lead the team into 2021. In a coronavirus-disrupted season, Leicester posted a 4–2 record in the mixed-division BAFANL 'Mercia' conference while posting one cross-conference loss away to Manchester Titans.

2022 saw the return of league play, as Leicester won every regular season game in the NFC 1 South to go 10–0–0 and enter playoffs as the top seed. After beating Chester Romans for a third time that season in the Division 1 quarter-finals, the Falcons welcomed East Kilbride Pirates for the semi-final matchup. An entertaining back-and-forth game went to the eventual Division 1 Champions in East Kilbride. However, Leicester were nonetheless promoted to the Premier North division as Sheffield Giants were voluntarily demoted.

Panthers return

Ahead of the 2023 season Head Coach Grossner left Leicester to take over Bethany College (Kansas), with former quarterback and Head Coach Stuart Franklin appointed in his place. The Falcons also moved to a new home ground at Aylestone Park F.C.

In April 2023, following the departure of general manager Guy Kersey, the Falcons rebranded as the Panthers.[12]


Year Division Record
2022 BAFANL NFC 1 South 10–0–0*
2021 BAFANL "Mercia" 4–3–0
2019 BAFANL Premier Division North 2–8–0
2018 BAFANL NFC 1 South 10–0–0*
2017 BAFANL NFC 1 South 9–1–0*
2016 BAFANL NFC 2 South 10–0–0*
2015 BAFANL National Central 7–3–0*
2014 BAFANL National Central 6–4–0
2013 BAFANL National Central 5–5–0
2012 BAFA Premier Division Northern Conference 3–7–0
2011 BAFA Division One Central Conference 7–3–0 *
2010 BAFA Division One Central Conference 6–3–1 *
2009 BAFA Division Two Central Conference 7–2–1 *
2008 BAFA Division Two Central Conference 3–5–2
2007 Association Year N/A
2006 Association Year N/A
* qualified for playoffs.

Italics denotes season on-going.

All-time regular season record 74–41–4

Includes one abandoned league game in 2008 and four forfeited games in 2012

All-time playoff record 12–4

All-time record (all games) 86–45–4

The Panthers Academy

As part of the team's continued growth and to help ensure its future, as well as to provide an entry point for teenagers who wish to enjoy the sport of American football, the Falcons are looking for the next generation of players to join the organisation.

The Falcons started a youth programme in the autumn of 2009 to fill the gap between junior Flag Football and adult contact football. In 2011, they entered the BAFACL Junior division for the first time and finished their inaugural season with a 1–7 record, with the sole win coming against Coventry Jets. 2011 also saw the debut of the Falcons' university team, in association with De Montfort University.

2012 saw the debut of an under 16 team, playing five a side contact football, and the restructure of the junior setup into the Falcons Academy. The youth team, coached by Karl Burgess and Joel Pearson, completed their first season with a 3–9 record.

2013 saw the Falcons Academy come on leaps and bounds, though the Falcons youth team returned only a handful of their players. Playing in a very competitive Midlands league, the academy team played a number of successful teams, running eventual champions Birmingham Bulls close on a handful of occasions. The academy went on to post a very acceptable 7–5 record, unfortunately fell just short of reaching the playoffs.

2014 was the academy's most successful season to date, with the U16 team winning their division and reaching the National Finals, where they finished the eighth ranked team in the country.

The club discontinued the academy in 2015 due to low numbers, but relaunched the U16 Youth team in 2018 in conjunction with local school Fullhurst College.

The academy is led by Ryan Cummings, Neil Lynds and Lloyd Colver-Thompson. The U16s team finished their debut season with 2 wins, beating the Birmingham Bulls during a home tournament and beat the Sandwell Steelers by default.

The Falcons have also just finished their first season at a U19 (Junior) level. Coming short in a couple of games they finished the season with a record of 1–1–4.

After a short hiatus due to Covid the U16 team completed the 2021 season with a 1–7 record. Their only win coming in the last game of the season against Rugby Rhinos.

The 2022 season finished more successfully with a 3–5 record.


  1. ^ Ex Leicester Panthers star Sean Peyton eyes Super Bowl glory, Leicester Mercury, thisisleicestershire.co.uk, 6 February 2010, archived from the original on 15 July 2010
  2. ^ Saints' coach was a Bears QB ... briefly, ESPN Commentary, 19 January 2007
  3. ^ Matt Hampson Bowl, BBC Where I Live Leicester, 25 May 2007
  4. ^ Drama as Leicester Falcons reach first final, Leicester Mercury, thisisleicestershire, 11 September 2009, archived from the original on 14 September 2009, retrieved 14 September 2009
  5. ^ Falcons land dramatic victory in play-offs, Leicester Mercury, thisisleicestershire, 30 September 2009, archived from the original on 22 April 2010, retrieved 19 April 2010
  6. ^ LOROS 25th Anniversary American Football Game, LOROS www.loros.com, 10 June 2010, archived from the original on 13 July 2011, retrieved 16 June 2010
  7. ^ Leicester Falcons land first win of season, Leicester Mercury, thisisleicestershire, 12 June 2010, archived from the original on 19 July 2010, retrieved 16 June 2010
  8. ^ http://bafanl.co.uk/site/?p=912[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Leicester Falcons News". Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Leicester Falcons News". Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  11. ^ "BAFANL Fixtures 2015 | Double Coverage". Archived from the original on 23 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  12. ^ https://sportank.com/media/post/leicester-falcons-rebrand-to-the-leicester-panthers