XFL files for bankruptcy after coronavirus sacks season

The pandemic robbed XFL of critical revenue from ticket sales

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The XFL filed for bankruptcy Monday after less than one season in operation days after league officials suspended operations and announced mass layoffs due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing notes the XFL has both assets and liabilities in the range of $10 million to $50 million. World Wrestling Entertainment CEO and league founder Vince McMahon controlled 100 percent of the XFL’s Class A shares and 76.5 percent of its Class B shares. WWE held the remaining ownership interest.

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The XFL’s creditors included the head coaches of its eight teams, including former Dallas Renegades head coach Bob Stoops and Tampa Bay Vipers head coach Marc Trestman. Ticketmaster and Metlife Stadium, home to the XFL’s New York Guardians, also held unsecured financial claims.

A WWE spokesman deferred comment to the XFL. XFL representatives could not immediately be reached.

The XFL suspended its inaugural season on March 12 with five games remaining in its 2020 campaign. The suspension came after federal and state authorities issued advisories against mass gatherings, including sporting events, due to the pandemic.

With no media rights deal in place, ticket sales were a critical source of XFL revenue.

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Later in March, XFL officials announced the 2020 season would not resume but said in a statement the league was “committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years.” XFL players were informed they would still be paid for the season term.

The Tampa Bay Vipers play the NY Guardians in an XFL game at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 09, 2020, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The NY Guardians won, 23-3. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)

However, XFL CEO Jeffrey Pollack revealed in a conference call last week that most employees would be laid off.

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McMahon sold WWE shares worth hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to bankroll the XFL’s relaunch. The XFL earned solid television ratings for early broadcasts and positive reviews of its game broadcast and rules innovations, though viewership steadily declined as the season progressed.

The XFL’s bankruptcy came just one year after the Alliance of American Football, another springtime football startup, collapsed from financial issues. The original XFL folded in 2001 after just one season.

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