The drama around the early closure and bankruptcy of the XFL continues with news that Vince McMahon has pulled out of purchasing the league’s assets out of bankruptcy.
This is due to a row with creditors who accuse him of trying to buy back what is left of the XFL for pennies on the dollar, leaving them with a tiny fraction of the money they are owed, according to an article this week on ‘The Athletic’ (Subscription required).
The row began when the league ended it’s season prematurely on March 12th in the throes of the global Coronavirus pandemic that has laid waste to live sport across the world.
Soon after, in April, the league announced it was filing for bankruptcy owing creditors somewhere between $10-50 million.
Separately to this, commissioner Oliver Luck, who had his contract terminated days before the bankruptcy was announced is suing Vince McMahon personally for wrongful dismissal.
McMahon’s latest revelations came to light on Tuesday in filings that blamed creditors for strong arming out of the bidding for the league’s assets by means of false accusations regarding his intentions across the whole process.
Footnotes of those filings included the following quotes from a deposition testimony last week:
“I don’t know why that’s out there, making me out to be the bad guy, (that) I’m going to buy the XFL back for pennies on the dollar, basically. That helped me move into the direction of I’m not going to be a bidder, not going to have anything to do with it. I do hope that someone will pay a lot of money for it, and I do hope that it will survive.”
In stating his belief that the creditors’ alleged tactics had been to the detriment of the league and ultimately themselves he said:
“What the Committee has managed to do with its overblown and baseless accusations is to chase away a potentially significant bidder for the Debtor’s assets — a potential bidder who, by the way, knows the Debtor’s business better than any other, who has already demonstrated the vision and drive to make the XFL a success, who believes in the XFL so much that he was willing to put at least $200 million of his money into the league, who provided critical rescue financing to fund employee payroll and preserve going-concern value, and who sought to make the XFL’s season ticket holders whole to sustain the league’s reputation and goodwill for the benefit of the future owner, whoever it may be. The Committee’s knee-jerk obstructionism was, and is, reckless and value-destructive.”
It does seem that the XFL is the sports league that will not die. Despite failing to see out the season, various potential buyers are keen to see the league restart in 2021, according to The Athletic.
The subscription sports magazine service article suggests that these potential buyers see an opportunity to raise the brand’s perception amongst the expected period of live sports, made for television consumption without a crowd.
With low crowds last season compared to other major sports in the US, games without fans, they speculate, will be less jarring to watch as a TV broadcast than say, the NFL in empty stadiums. Other innovations such as in game audio and live betting information make the XFL already fit to adapt to a new normality in sports.
The report suggests that 26 buyers have signed Non-Disclosure Agreements to get access to the financial information about the league. More could follow, with pitches sent out to 235 potential purchasers by the league’s investment bank, Houlihan Lokey.
With plans for a 12 week 2021 tournament being mooted, it seems the story of the XFL might have yet another chapter.