The rebooted 2020 XFL was met with both enthusiasm and skepticism. Memories of the first iteration in 2001 left a bad taste in many fan’s mouths. Yet during the first few weeks of play, the XFL proved surprisingly entertaining and competitive. Some speculated it may even turn into a sort of developmental league for the NFL.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic halted such promise. The XFL suspended operations after five weeks of play. At first, the league seemed optimistic, saying they still planned to have a 2021 season. However, this changed recently when the league laid off all of its employees. Let’s look at those changes, the XFL’s future, and some of the early fan reactions.
The XFL’s deflating news
Up until early April, the XFL stuck by the position that they’d return for a 2021 season. In fact, just days before they suspended the season they were actively looking into relocating several teams to new cities, including San Antonio. Everything changed on April 10, however, during a conference call held by XFL President Jeffrey Pollack.
The call lasted just 10 minutes, but its message was huge. Pollack told his employees the XFL was officially suspending all operations. Moreover, all but a handful of senior executives were laid off. At the time, it was unclear whether commissioner Oliver Luck would retain his position with the league.
The news worsened on April 13 when the league filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In the filing, the XFL cited the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus as a chief factor. Shortly before the bankruptcy filing, commissioner Luck was fired. He quickly retaliated by suing owner Vince McMahon for wrongful termination as The Athletic reports.
The future of the XFL
Obviously, none of this news is good. Yet fans are right to wonder exactly what it means for the XFL’s future. Unfortunately, during the April 10 conference call, Pollack confirmed the league has no plans to return in 2021. He didn’t go so far as to say the XFL was going out of business, although the writing was on the wall.
The bankruptcy filing only made the league’s fate clearer. News soon broke that the league was actively seeking buyers to help clear their debt. Yet some commentators and legal analysts were confused by the McMahon’s choice to file Chapter 11, not Chapter 7, bankruptcy papers.
As Diffen explains, Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings indicate that the debtor will sell off their assets in order to pay off debts, which is what many expect McMahon to do. He can still pursue this course with a Chapter 11 filing. Yet Chapter 11 also gives the debtor the chance to negotiate with his creditors without selling off the assets. This leaves open a possibility — a slim one, admittedly — that the XFL could somehow find a way back.
Fan reactions to the news
Judging by fans’ reactions, however, the XFL is as good as dead and buried. It didn’t take long for people to start chiming in on Reddit. Many users quickly pointed out that the XFL seems truly cursed. Others expressed sympathy for McMahon, especially since the new XFL seemed to be on the road to relevancy before COVID-19.
Many fans quickly read between the lines of the official announcements, trying to find a ray of hope. As one user put it: “The way I interpret it is that they are just saving money by employing only the most vital people they have. Hopefully, they rehire everyone once this is over.”