The XFL already had a questionable future once it suspended its inaugural season after five games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the league’s future seems to be in serious jeopardy.
Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the XFL is suspending day-to-day operations and all employees have been laid off. The league held a conference call to inform employees of the decision Friday with one employee telling NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero the term the league used was “shut down.”
The new XFL suspended play prior to Week 6 of its inaugural season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and canceled the season a week later. The league allowed its players to sign deals with NFL and Canadian Football League teams shortly after, and some of the league’s notable players reached deals with NFL teams in the following weeks.
Per Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, the decision came less than 24 hours after the league gave fans back all money in their season ticket accounts, including deposits for 2021 season tickets. The league had plans to play a second season in 2021, but ESPN reported that the league currently has no plans to return.
The XFL was off to a solid start in its first season with interesting rule changes to the game, most notably the new kickoff rules and the league doing away with kicking for an extra point. The league had one, two and three-point conversions instead of an extra point try. The league averaged around 15,000 fans per home game, drawing strong crowds in some cities. It even handled an officiating gaffe consistently, the first true test of the league’s structure.
The coronavirus pandemic shut down an XFL that seemed financially stable, compared to the Alliance of American Football — which tried an attempt at a spring football league last year. The XFL took a massive hit from circumstances out of its control and, apparently, it could be over before Year 2.