XFL files for bankruptcy amid economic hardship

Alternative football league was revamped and recently laid off all employees

The revamped XFL didn’t bode too well despite its widespread praise and viewership successes. The league filed for bankruptcy just days after laying off all its employees in response to the economic hardships the country is facing.

The XFL has played its last games for the foreseeable future. The league officially filed for bankruptcy on Monday, ending its attempt at a return as a rival to the NFL. 

“Unfortunately, as a new enterprise we were not insulated from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis,” an XFL spokesperson told TMZ. “Accordingly, we have filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.”

XFL COO Jeffery Pollack announced in a 10-minute phone call with league employees that it was laying off most of its workforce with no plans to return in 2021. The XFL originally announced in March that it was cancelling the rest of the season and was planning on returning for the 2021 season.

 According to TMZ, employees were paid full wages up until April 12, including vacation days. They also reported that the XFL was in the process of refunding ticket holders. 

The bankruptcy revealed that WWE CEO Vince McMahon owned 100% of the league’s Class A stock and that the WWE owned 23.5% of its Class B stock. 

The XFL was five weeks into its inaugural season with its conference semifinals scheduled for April 18-19. The league championship would have promptly followed the next week on April 26. With the league shutting down, former players have started to sign with NFL teams. 

Former XFL employees are also in the process of finding new jobs but remain proud of the work they did in the XFL. 

“I think the league provided an innovative and exciting spin on the game,” former Director of Content for the Tampa Bay Vipers Andrew Samson wrote in a tweet. 

“I could give you a laundry list of examples to back that up, but I want to focus on the XFL’s most important achievements: providing entertainment for millions of fans and jobs for hundreds and hundreds of people who love football.” 

The XFL is one of many professional competitors to the NFL to fold over the years. Vince McMahon’s first attempt at the XFL folded after just one season in 2001. 

Last year, the Alliance of American football folded after only eight weeks of play and was unable to make payroll. 

The earliest attempt of a competitor to the NFL was the United States Football League, which was founded in 1982. The league initially played a spring schedule, but moved to compete directly with the NFL in the fall after former New Jersey Generals majority owner Donald Trump forced a vote on the matter. Their goal was to force a merger with the NFL. 

The league filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and won but was only awarded $3 in judgement. The decision led to the cancellation of the planned 1986 season and the league went bankrupt. 

The XFL was seemingly providing a different take on football compared to the action seen on NFL and NCAA gridirons. 

For example, the point after touchdowns were organized into one, two and three point tries from the 2, 5 and 10-yard lines. 

Overtime was structured into the best of five rounds, with each team attempting one play on the opponents 5-yard line. If the teams were tied after five rounds, it would go into sudden death with the first team to score. 

With the fledgling yet hopeful XFL folding as a result of economic hardships, it begs the question as to whether another alternative football league will spawn again.