Just eight weeks into its inaugural season, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) has suspended operations. The league was seen as the alternative to the NFL and started on Feb. 9 which was just six days after Super Bowl XLIII.
The league had been struggling financially since the jump and was going to have difficulty making payroll after the first week of the season. Tom Dundon, who also owns the NHL’s Carolina Panthers, had to pledge a $250 million investment to save the league at that point and he essentially became the league’s new owner.
According to sources, after Dundon’s investment it became clear that his goals for the league were very different than the original ones set forth by co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian.
“I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football,” Polian said in a statement. “When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.
“The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity.”
Darren Rovell says that Dundon’s plan was to make the AAF a minor league feeder system for the NFL immediately while Ebersol and Polian planned to develop the league for three years before it becoming a feeder system.
Sources also say that many of the league’s vendors have not been paid yet and it’s unclear if Dundon or the previous ownership should foot those bills.
Outside of financial problems, the league also had logistical nightmares including the Orlando Apollos being forced to move their practices three hours away to Kingsland, Georgia.
Just weeks before the planned championship game on April 27, the AAF moved the location of the game from Las Vegas to Frisco, Texas as there was never a signed agreement between the AAF and the owners of the stadium in Vegas where the game was to be played.
Not even the arrival of Heisman winner Johnny Manziel could save the league although Manziel did offer up advice to his fellow AAF players.
If this is the end of the AAF, then it won’t have lasted even as long as the original XFL did which was one season. AAF co-founder Charlie Eberson is the son of Dick Eberson who was a Chairman at NBC which owned 50 percent of the original XFL.
The AAF’s demise is one fewer barrier for Vince McMahon in his second version of XFL. McMahon, along with his company Alpha Entertainment, is the sole owner of the XFL which plans to begin play in 2020.
Outside of the AAF and XFL, other upcoming pro football leagues include the American Patriot League, Pacific Pro Football and Freedom Football League. All of those leagues plan to start play in 2020.
Source: Wrestling Inc.