Just when it seemed like the XFL would become the first successful spring football league, everything came crashing down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly after canceling the season, the XFL suspended operations and its parent company filed for bankruptcy.
Now, just a few months after the league folded, steps are being taken that could bring back the XFL and deliver professional football in the spring.
“Strong indications” XFL will relaunch within the next two years
After the XFL failed in 2001 under Vince McMahon, he worked to revive it by investing $200 million and multiple years of preparation before relaunching the league this season. Right when it started to hit its stride among football fans, the coronavirus hit the United States and shut down sports.
The XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, paving the way towards a potential return under new ownership. Now, as detailed by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, a path to an XFL reboot is emerging.
According to ESPN, a bankruptcy judge set July 29 as the deadline for all interested parties to submit bids for the league and its assets. A court auction is scheduled to be held on Aug. 3, with the wheels then in motion for new ownership to take over before the fall. As of now, there are strong indications the XFL will be sold to new ownership and then relaunched in a year or two.
When could the XFL return?
Before filing for bankruptcy, the XFL pitched an unusual format for the 2021 season. The league would return to one location with a 12-week tournament that would be televised nationally. If the XFL is sold this summer, it could theoretically target a return this spring.
However, significant hurdles remain that could prevent that. The XFL let all of its employees go, so new owners would need to completely rebuild the league. The sale would give them the brand name and intellectual property from the XFL, per ESPN, but there would still be significant work to do.
As a result, it’s unlikely we see the XFL return in 2021. The league was initially successful because it dedicated two years to bring in the right people, create a foundation and slowly moving forward. New owners would also likely see the AAF’s collapse, a league that rushed into its season, as a cautionary tale.
We likely won’t see football played next spring, unless there are unexpected delays to the 2020 college football season. While another year without the XFL might be disappointing, it could give it the best chance to return and sustain success.