That XFL shocked his workforce on Friday morning issue mass layoffs and implies a bleak outlook for the future of the league. XFL stopped the operation, and various sources told ESPN that the league currently has no plans to return in 2021.
Indeed, it will probably be the first pro sports league in the country to give up coronavirus pandemic. The loss of the XFL is clearly another failure to build an alternative football league that is difficult to understand for the NFL.
When the day ends, I will clarify what I know, what I don’t know and what I think about what all that means.
Why is anyone surprised? Isn’t this just a matter of time?
No. The league was suspended playing March 12 after playing half 10 week season, and officially canceled the rest of the season on March 20. However, throughout that time, league employees and teams – including the players – were paid their normal salaries in preparation for the 2021 season. The XFL confirmed its plans to continue working towards the next season as recently as three weeks ago.
So does this mean the league will not return?
According to staff who make conference calls throughout the company, CEO Jeffrey Pollack stopped saying that the league would be out of business. That will be a decision for owner Vince McMahon, who is also the president / CEO of WWE. In a statement, WWE only said that the XFL was “evaluating the next steps.”
But a number of league staff left the call with the strong impression that the XFL would be closed, and that the few remaining executives would complete the business before leaving on their own. A staff member said: “It’s over. It won’t come back.”
Specifically, employees are laid off – no leave. The only public acknowledgment of the news was a tweet with the seven-second video of actor Jake Gyllenhaal wave hands.
– XFL (@ xfl2020) April 10, 2020
What has changed in the past three weeks?
Pollack did not give much detail about the call. Staff who listened thought that the deepening economic crisis in the world had triggered this step. Friday also marks what will be the last week of the regular season, after which the players will not owe their salaries anymore.
But doesn’t McMahon have enough money to bring the league to 2021?
As chairman and CEO of WWE, McMahon is currently valued at $ 1.9 billion, according to Forbes magazine. That’s down from $ 2.9 billion in 2019. It should also be noted that WWE experienced some upheaval before the pandemic began. McMahon ousted two top executives in January after lower-than-expected earnings, and WWE’s share price has dropped 42% so far this year.
The biggest question facing the XFL, as I noted when the season began, is not whether the league will run out of money, because The American Football Alliance did it in 2019, but how long does McMahon want to fund it.
How much money did he lose in this XFL version?
I didn’t know the League spent two years in development before putting its products on the field, and even the revenue was relatively mild. In accordance with its agreement with ABC, ESPN and FOX, XFL does not receive fees this year to broadcast the game. (The announcer covers production costs.)
To be fair, player costs, the highest fees for most sports leagues, are relatively low. Most are set to get around $ 55,000 if they are on the list for all 10 weeks of the season. Some quarterbacks produce substantially more, but the league is believed to have a lower total salary than AAF in 2019.
There is no pandemic, will the league return in 2021?
Maybe, but only McMahon knows for sure. League accepted strong review Week 1 and an average of 3.12 million viewers per game. But the average drops every week and reaches around 1.5 million on Sunday 5, a 51% decrease. An average attendance of 18,614 per game, about 20% higher than the average attendance at the AAF game in 2019.
In an interview in the midseason, Pollack and commissioner Oliver Luck said the league was ready for a strong settlement to bring momentum to 2021.
What is the future of Luck?
He did not speak on the conference call and did not answer requests for comment. It is unclear whether he was part of Friday’s layoffs. Pollack is the only executive known to remain with the league, even in the short term. McMahon hired Luck to increase the credibility of football from this XFL incarnation, and Luck explained that he would take a football-centric approach and not give up on the ruse to market the league.
Does XFL have a good plan?
The only way to answer that is to say we probably will never know. Luck and director of football operations Sam Schwartzstein compiled and applied a series of innovations they hope to play football again for the next generation. The XFL game is about 15 minutes faster than the NFL contest, and rules designed to maximize kickoff and increase point-after efforts prove to be popular. In February, NFL competition committee members said they were interested in league innovation and planned to study it more closely.
But the overall quality of the game is uneven. The league did not chase star players, a decision he signaled when making NFL daily quarterback player Landry Jones became the first player he contracted, and the QB he collected had wide skill differences.
Could the league have built a lasting fan base, and supported a profitable company, with plans built around the game rather than the players? That is the game, but it hinders the unexpected development, we will never know.
Will broadcast innovation be compatible with the NFL?
XFL broadcasts feature part-time interviews with players and coaches. They regularly broadcast talks between officials in the field, as well as replay officials who decide whether to cancel or support the summons. It was made for interesting television, but it worked partly because there was never another paradigm in XFL.
Does the NFL need to make their players available for interviews on the bench? Does he want the official process broadcast live? I think not.
Isn’t this all just a vehicle to engage the gambling community?
I don’t think that’s cheeky, but XFL definitely would rather gamble than the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball. The plan is to “embrace the spread,” authorizing publishers to openly discuss and display gambling activities, and they know it can attract growth segments of the sports industry simply by not blocking gambling connections.
What is happening now with XFL players and coaches?
Players are free to sign with the NFL since March 23, and dozens already have. Runaway league player, quarterback P.J. Walker, Join Carolina Panthers to back up a new starter Teddy Bridgewater. Coaches will also be free to pursue new opportunities.
After this experience, will there be another big spring football league?
It’s hard to imagine someone going to try it in the near future, if for no other reason than the possibility of a prolonged economic decline.
But in the bigger picture, we still haven’t seen proof of concept for a alternative soccer league. XFL is the most promising effort since the USFL in the 1980s. In the end, however, the last successful alternative soccer league in the country was the AFL, which joined the NFL in 1970. Nobody broke the code, if anything.