XFL President Jeffrey Pollack: Hopefully we’ll be headed to a relaunch at the right time

According to Jeffrey Pollack, President and Chief Operating Officer of the XFL, via Bloomberg, we have been given a reminder that the XFL was a valued entity and will be sold to the highest bidder.

“We are in the middle of a sale process,” Pollack said. “Bids are due July 30. In just a few short weeks here we’ll know the future of the XFL, who the new owner will be, and hopefully we’ll be headed to relaunch at the right time.”

On July 30th, the bidding process will be complete, and the new owners of the XFL will be announce in early August.

“Were it not for the pandemic, we would have had a phenomenal first season and I would say probably the best launch of a new sports league in the last 30 years, if not ever,” Pollack said.

In the Bloomberg interview, Pollack went on to talk about how the XFL got to where it is today.

“We launched on February 8 this past year. Everything was starting to work and click in a really good way, and unfortunately like so many other sports and entertainment properties and so many other businesses the pandemic really put a hard stop on everything that we were doing and we subsequently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and that’s the process we’re working through right now.”

“The decision to stop the season, the decision to file bankruptcy, both decisions were heartbreaking and frankly unimaginable,” Pollack said. “Our shutdown and our bankruptcy filing had nothing to do with anything other than the pandemic. Our business was working, our proof of concept was successful, and we were on our way to a phenomenal first season.”

From Mike Mitchell, and a well-placed source, the  XFL was on track to make $46M in revenue for the 2020 season, but only made $20M for the partial season they played.

Today, in a wide ranging article about bankruptcies in the USA, Bloomberg reported, “Vince McMahon, lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue when it canceled the remainder of the XFL season and fired about 500 football players. As it prepared to file bankruptcy, McMahon lent the company $9 million with its assets as collateral, but he withdrew his bid to buy it out of bankruptcy in time for the 2021 season after other creditors complained. Now the company hopes to sell itself to another buyer in an auction next month.”

It should be noted that the point that McMahon had planned to purchase the XFL out of bankruptcy has recently been refuted by McMahon.

Confirmed. XFL bids are coming in

According to Axio, the XFL has set July 30 as the deadline for formal acquisition bids. This information was confirmed through a reliable source by independent journalist Jai Nokes.

It is also confirmed that the XFL has “prospective bidders coming from both the media/entertainment and pro sports worlds.”

It seems that there is a “greater than-expected interest” for entities that may be ready to purchase the league.

Although the deadline for formal acquisition bids is July 30, the winning bidder is scheduled to be announced on August 7th.

The Innovations of the XFL continue to change professional football

Innovations we witnessed in the spring of this year could be a big part of the way football is played in the future.

Austin, TX – “Re-imagining the game of football” rang true during the first five weeks of XFL play, and now it seems like the NFL is doing the same.

With an ongoing pandemic, and leagues across the world trying to mitigate risk that COVID-19 poses, the NFL is looking for a solution regarding fan attendance and safety of its players and coaching staffs.

Charean Williams, writer for Pro Football Talk, wrote an article about how the NFL could put speakers in all of the players helmets on offense and defense. He states, “this could eliminate huddles where players cannot by definition social distance.”

Outside of making this about recommendations made by the CDC with hopes of playing professional football in the fall… this sounds very familiar.

Change is guaranteed in life, and I believe with or without the pandemic affecting the future of sports as we know it, the NFL would have discussed making this change eventually.

Not for safety measures.

Why? Because the NFL is now focused on the speed of the game, and adding speakers to each players helmet on offense and defense as we witnessed with the XFL can improve the product of the game and keep fans interested.

The faster the pace the better.

It is great to see the NFL is finally catching up and advancing their technology, but we will always remember where we saw this first, and that is the XFL.

The innovations made by XFL 1.0 changed the way we watched football and how media companies produced the broadcast of their games.

Now with XFL 2.0 the innovations we witnessed in the spring of this year could be a big part of the way football is played in the future.

Let’s just cross our fingers, the NFL looks into sideline interviews after a touchdown with coaches and players.

That’d be nice.

#FortheLoveofFootball

Look at all these rumors… about the XFL

XFL- LA Wildcats At NY Guardians 29 Feb 2020 – Credit Adam McCullough

Austin, TX– During its five weeks of duration, The XFL was not only innovative in the way the sport of football is played but also cultivated a huge fan base and following.

And personally, I am one of those fans.

There are many reasons as to why I hold a great affinity for the league as a whole, but the main reason that I loved the XFL was because it ignited something deep down within.

From the innovative presentation and broadcast of the games, the passion displayed by players and coaches, the kickoffs, the overtime rules, extra points, and live look-ins to the locker rooms and half time speeches, we all were able to use those experiences to fall back in love with the basics of football.

As my youth football coach always said during halftime, “The most important thing in this game, is to have fun.”

The fans experienced intimacy with the teams they followed, which I think is something that is missing in most of the professional sports we love to follow and watch. We are all excited about the potential of the XFL coming back, but as a reporter and a analyst, I have to be responsible in reporting information I receive.

Needless to say I have learned from my past transgressions. (Like 2 days ago)

Rumors and speculation have surrounded the XFL since the league cancelled it’s season, and it is okay that we are excited but most of the rumors and speculation surrounding the revival of the league has been mostly miss more than hit including my previous tweet earlier in the week, and that is never good for anyone involved.

Especially when fans of the beloved XFL are looking for breaking and exciting news during these troubling times around the world.

I am here to nip all of those rumors in the bud.

The facts are the XFL is currently going through the process of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and that is all.

We will not truly know the fate of our beloved XFL until August 7th which is the date set for the XFL’s sale hearing.

There are rumors surrounding who the potential bidders and buyers could be, but that is all they are. Rumors.

The initial report about the league looking into relocating different teams to different markets or expansion of the league, again are just rumors.

Last but not least the article released earlier yesterday referring to Vince McMahon potentially cashing out after the bankruptcy process. You guessed it, it’s just another rumor.

Look at all of these rumors…

I understand how excited you are about the potential of the XFL coming back because like you I believe the league was poised for success.

But the fact of the matter is at this moment all we can do is wait patiently for August 7th, and any news you may possibly hear before then may just be… rumors.

I am excited and encouraged about the potential of the XFL returning, but also I understand that we must remain patient through this process.

As the old adage goes, “Some things in life are worth waiting for.”

If I receive any news or updates regarding the XFL I will be happy to share, but as of right now I do not expect much news to break.

#FortheloveofFootball

XFL Auction set for August 3rd

XFL Auction

According to Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, the XFL will have a new owner on August 3rd.

The date was selected Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein, who split the difference between the timetable preferred by the XFL and the one wanted by the league’s creditors. Even though the auction will be settled on the 3rd, the sale will be confirmed four days layer.

Last week it was revealed that there are already twenty potential buyers that have signed non-disclosure agreements, and are potential bidders for the purchase of the league. It is also rumored that one of the interested parties is Fox/Disney.  There is no proven veracity to this rumor, as of now.

Regardless of who has interest in purchasing the XFL, there is hope that the league will return in 2021.

Unbelievable interest in the gutted XFL

From a report in The Athletic, twenty different bidders have submitted non-disclosure agreements to begin negotiations to purchase the XFL.

By all reports, the “robust market” has come as a surprise to the firm Houlihan Lokey, the XFL’s global investment bank that is handling the deal. In fact, they expect six additional contenders to join the negotiating process, which they do not expect to complete until September.

To assist in keeping itself viable, it is reported that the XFL has begun discussing extending stadium leases.

“I understand the debtor has modeled for 2021 a made-for-TV, 12-week tournament-style approach to its business, since the XFL is particularly well suited for a crowd-free experience that could thrive in the current environment, given its existing innovations such as in-game audio from players and coaches and live on-screen sports wagering information,” Houlihan managing partner William Hardie said.

Just prior to the XFL filing for bankruptcy in mid-April, the league gutted itself by laying off players coaches and staff in each of the eight XFL cities. A skeleton crew remained on payroll in the XFL head office, however its well-regarded Commissioner Oliver Luck was sacked. Luck, who left the NCAA to accept a $20 million per year role with the league, has now filed a lawsuit against XFL owner Vince McMahon for wrongful termination.

Prior reports suggested McMahon was part of an investment group that was vying to purchase the XFL from bankruptcy. However, McMahon has debunked this rumor in a deposition released this week, where he confirmed he would not be back with the XFL.

Vince McMahon claims he does not plan to buy back the XFL

“I don’t know why that’s out there, making me out to be the bad guy” ~ McMahon

After the XFL was shuttered and then placed into bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been rumored that Vince McMahon was planning to buy back the league from bankruptcy.

Today, as part of the bankruptcy filing, McMahon cleared the air in his deposition.

“I don’t know why that’s out there, making me out to be the bad guy, [that] I’m going to buy the XFL back for pennies on the dollar, basically,” McMahon said in the deposition.

“That helped me move into the direction of, ‘I’m not going to be a bidder, not going to have anything to do with it.’ I do hope that someone will pay a lot of money for it, and I do hope that it will survive.”

McMahon originally launched the XFL in 2001 and rebooted the league in 2019. McMahon owned 80% of the league through his management company Alpha Entertainment and 20% through the WWE.

The brokerage firm Houlihan Lokey has been hired to handle the sale of the league. Letters of intent are due June 12 from interested parties. Final bids are due July 6, subject to approval by the bankruptcy court, in hopes of putting potential new owners in position to get the XFL back on the field.

Is Vince McMahon trying to buy back the bankrupt XFL?

Vince McMahon may be having second thoughts about giving up his XFL dream, as there has been reports he has been making inquiries about re-instating lease agreements in some XFL cities.

According to a recent story in The Athletic, the XFL has reached out to at least the Seattle and St. Louis markets about reinstating lease agreements.

It is possible that McMahon may be trying to purchase the XFL, which he currently owns through Alpha Entertainment and the WWE, from the Delaware bankruptcy court that is working to deal off the league to the highest bidder.

It was also reported that XFL president Jeffrey Pollack is still employed by the league, and that XFL headquarters remain at least partially open.  However, McMahon would have to revive the league without its commissioner Oliver Luck, who has been fired and is the midst of an ugly wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

The XFL did refund all fans who had purchased tickets, which could be seen as a goodwill gesture to fans who may be asked to come back to league once pandemic concerns are alleviated.

If McMahon is indeed interested in reviving the XFL, and succeeds in doing so through a bankruptcy purchase, it may be deemed as one of the most incredible sports business moves in recent history.

XFL Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The XFL has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, per Darren Rovell. The filing revealed that the WWE did have partial ownership of the league at 23.5%. Other creditors included Dallas Coach Bob Stoops ($1M), Marc Trestman ($777K), as well as Ticketmaster ($655K), and other coaches investing $583K each.

Vince McMahon had been reported to be willing to put around $500 million into the league, but according to Forbes, his net worth has dropped $1B in the last year. 

After the XFL suspended day to day operations on Friday, there was still hope that the league would return in 2021. This breaking news makes that very unlikely, signaling the end of the line for the XFL officially. While Chapter 11 does allow for re-structuring of debts, any bankruptcy filing for a professional sports league is not a good sign. 

In a statement the league expressed its regrets:

“The XFL quickly captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people who love football. Unfortunately, as a new enterprise, we were not insulated from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Accordingly, we have filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This is a heartbreaking time for many, including our passionate fans, players and staff, and we are thankful to them, our television partners, and the many Americans who rallied to the XFL for the love of football.”

Daniel Kaplan of the Athletic is now also reporting that the XFL is for sale. That would mean trademarks, logos, rights, the whole 9 yards. This would allow for someone other than Vince McMahon to buy the league and maybe take a 3rd run at making it successful in 2021 and beyond. ”

This is a breaking story and will be updated as we continue to receive credible information.

 

Is this the end of the XFL? Only Vince McMahon Knows

Will the XFL be back? Only Vince McMahon knows the answer.

The XFL suspended operations Friday morning and has laid off nearly all of its staff, with only a handful of executives remaining in place in order to complete the shutdown.

In short statement relayed via the Twitter account of ESPN national NFL writer @SeifertESPN, the message was, “Given the uncertainty of the current environment, the XFL has suspended operations and is evaluating next steps.”

A change of plans

It was only a few weeks ago that the XFL canceled its remaining season as part of a nationwide shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, at that time, XFL COO Jeffrey Pollack pledged that the league would be back in 2021.

However, it is rumored that a recent evaluation of the league’s finances warranted a drastic change in plans.

XFL Employees laid off

On Friday 10 April, XFL employees were told they were laid off in a 10-minute conference call from Jeffrey Pollack.

“The XFL as an entity has been hard hit and is affected more directly than most in the sport industry,” Pollack told staffers. “We had no alternative than to stop right in the middle of our first season, just as we were continuing to build our foundation and our future. As a result of the pandemic’s impact and given the uncertainty we are now living with and facing, the decision has been to immediately suspend day-to-day operations of the XFL in Stamford and each of our eight markets. What this means is that everyone’s employment by the XFL is terminated, effective today.”

Pollack then told employees that funds had been deposited into their bank accounts, “providing your earned, but unpaid salary through April 12, plus payment for accrued and unused vacation time.”

It should be noted that the given layoff date of April 12th was only two days in the future.  This must have been an additional shock to most employees, who may now be wondering how they will pay their bills.

Pollack also indicated that a “small skeleton” staff would be present in Stamford, Conn. to allow employees to collect personal belongings from the XFL office, though the coronavirus prevention measures in place meant that the logistics of that move have yet to be determined.

Pollack assured them that the layoffs “had nothing to do with your performance or what was achieved.” He ended by saying that it has “been my absolute pleasure and honor to work with all of you… I appreciate, love and respect you all.”

Almost immediately, on social media, many former employees expressed shock in the sudden decision. Later, a few more even expressed dismay that their corporate email accounts were shut off so quickly.

It has also been reported that players were surprised by the sudden decision, and were not officially notified.

The league announces it’s departure with a cheap gif

The only official message to the outside world, including fans and players, was an animated GIF of actor Jake Gyllenhaal waving goodbye. Nothing more.

“Ceasing operations” is a serious decision

It took the league two years to build a head office and teams, with coaches, staff and players. Ceasing operations and sending everyone home is a sure sign the league won’t be back for at least two years. 

Some staff may be remaining in Stamford, but the word is that they are only there to complete the league’s business.  The implication is that they will be laid off as well, once everything is wrapped up.

Why did this happen?

The word is that finances are the reason.  By all reports, the league was originally well-funded, and was budgeted to have the money to operate for three seasons. However, the league’s first season was already cut in half, meaning that their first year’s revenue plan was already derailed. With the second season looking like it was in jeopardy, or at the very least, would consist of teams playing in front of empty stadiums, the league would have been looking at a second year of very low revenue.

Financial projections likely indicated it would run out of money before it had a chance to play another down of football. If the league remained in operation, and did not play, it would just hemorrhage money until the bank account was empty.  The only logical decision was to quit now, and retain the remaining funds that were originally set aside for the league.

It is also believed that the devastatingly depressed stock market had a role to play in the league’s financial fortunes.

It should be noted, by all reports, the XFL is paying its employees out until the lay-off date, and continuing to honor player contracts. It is also expected that they will pay their bills and not leave any creditors wanting payment as they shutter their operation. This is something the original XFL did when it folded in 2001. The expectation is that this version of the league will do the same.

Will the XFL be back?

People who are close to the league are convinced that this is the end of the XFL.

However, it is logical to say, that by shuttering the operation now, and saving the remaining money that was set aside to fund the league, could mean the XFL could be fiscally viable to continue once the COVID-19 crisis is completely over.

Many will admit it does not look good for the league. However, it is well-known that this league is an ongoing vision of Vince McMahon. Does this mean we can expect the XFL to return once the COVID-19 crisis is over?

Only Vince McMahon knows the answer.