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XFL, Canadian Football League Put Talks on Hold

James Butler #28 of the Houston Roughnecks carries the ball during the XFL game against the Tampa Bay Vipers at Raymond James Stadium on February 22, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.
(Image credit: Carmen Mandato/XFL via Getty Images)

About four months after starting talks with the Canadian Football League about a possible collaboration, the XFL said it has put those discussions on hold and looks toward starting play in the 2023 season.

The XFL said in March that it had begun discussions with the Canadian league to “identify opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football.” As a result, the XFL said it would postpone its 2022 season. 

News that the talks had ended was first reported by Sports Business Journal. 

Speculation was high that the two leagues were exploring a possible merger. Last year, former CFL player, professional wrestler and current movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, his ex-wife Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital purchased the XFL out of bankruptcy for about $15 million.  With the tabling of the CFL talks, the chances of a possible merger appear slim.   

“Our talks with the XFL, exploring the potential for collaboration and innovation, have been positive and constructive,” the CFL said in a statement on its website. “While we remain open to finding new ways to work together in the future, we and our XFL counterparts have jointly decided to not pursue any formal arrangements at this time.” 

The XFL issued a similar statement.

“While our discussions with the CFL did not ultimately lead to a collaboration, the effort reinforced our belief and commitment to developing the XFL for international spring football,” the XFL said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing everyone for kickoff in spring of 2023.”

Just what is next for the XFL remains in question, especially as another spring football league — the USFL — gears up for its 2022 season, with minority owner Fox Sports as its broadcast partner.

Michael Farrell is senior content producer — finance.