About four weeks after officially canceling its season because of the coronavirus, the XFL has suspended operations, laid off most of its work force and reportedly has no plans to return in 2021.
News of the XFL shutdown was first reported by ESPN. (opens in new tab)
The XFL launched on Feb. 8, but the league canceled its season on March 12 amid the coronavirus pandemic. On March 15, the league revealed that one of its players, a member of the Seattle Dragons, had tested positive for COVID-19 in early March.
This was to be the second attempt at creating a new football league for World Wrestling Entertainment chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. While the earlier version of the XFL crashed and burned after one season in 2001 amid low ratings and a string of bad luck (opens in new tab), the latest iteration was supposed to be a more serious, fast-paced, fan-centric and family-friendly football league. In June 2018 McMahon hired former NFL and NCAA executive Oliver Luck as commissioner and CEO of the league, and tapped sports business consultant Jeffrey Pollack as president and chief operating officer.
The hope was the league, which had no connection to McMahon’s WWE, would be able to compete as a summer league for football fans. While ratings for its inaugural games were high, later contests attracted a smaller number of viewers.
XFL officials did not respond to requests for comment, but according to several reports, Pollack informed employees of the decision to shutter the league in a 10-minute conference call Friday. Several employees took to twitter to say they had been let go.
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