WWE CEO Vince McMahon on Thursday said he is launching a new version of the XFL, a professional football league, through his Alpha Entertainment investment fund, nearly two decades after the original XFL unsuccessfully challenged the NFL for one season.
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The new XFL will launch in 2020 with eight teams, 40-man rosters and a 10-week schedule that will start in either late January or early February, rather than directly compete with the NFL. McMahon did not say where the games will air, but said they will be available on all platforms. The initial investment behind the league will be roughly $100 million.
“The new XFL will be fan-centric, with all the things you like to see and less of the things you don’t. We will present a shorter, faster-paced, family friendly and easier-to-understand game,” McMahon said.
The XFL’s return comes at a time of unprecedented financial success – as well as criticism – for the NFL. The league is projected to earn a record $14 billion in 2017, according to multiple reports.
However, the NFL is also facing significant declines in its television audience amid the rise of cord-cutting, as well as pressure from sponsors, fans and President Donald Trump over a wave of national anthem protests.
McMahon said the NFL's current issues did not factor into his decision to reform the XFL, adding that the league would not be a platform for political or social issues. The new league will have a strict off-field conduct policy, and officials with consult with safety experts to address the risk of concussions and other serious injuries.
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McMahon sold tens of millions of dollars in WWE stock to fund the new league. A WWE spokesman first confirmed McMahon was exploring investment opportunities in sports last December.
McMahon said he will continue to be the CEO and chairman of WWE, despite his new league, adding that there would be no crossover of talent between the two organizations.
Founded in 1999 as a joint venture between McMahon’s WWE and NBC Sports, the original XFL played just one season. The league folded in 2001 after losing a purported $70 million.
McMahon’s press conference announcing the new league can be viewed below.
This story has been updated.