The proposed collaboration between the CFL and XFL has been on the table for a while now, but recent speculation suggests an exciting dimension to the plans.
Just a few months on from the news that the Canadian Football League could work closer with the XFL, further details have emerged that should excite fans. A partnership that was seemingly forged in the wrestling ring could be about to impact football in the United States.
XFL part-owner Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is part of the proposed collaboration with CFL, with both companies having been adversely affected by the recent pandemic and looking at options of helping each other out. One proposed suggestion is that a postseason title game may take place between each of the league’s respective championship teams. After a long season of football, who would not want to see the Houston Roughnecks square up against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, or Calgary Stampeders against New York Guardians? As a one-off event, it would be sure to draw a good number of viewers.
Whilst a championship game is one proposal, another is an All-Star game featuring a mix of both league’s top players, and interleague matchups throughout the season. Think of the Monday Night Wars between Raw and Smackdown, only with a little less violence, a little more sporting integrity and no Vince McMahon. Again, those interleague games could provide something of a spectacle as well as play on the national pride of the competing teams.
Wherever the discussions lead, XFL President and CEO Jeffrey Pollack is delighted to be on the cusp of agreeing on the collaboration, saying this in a recent interview: “We are honored and excited to be in discussions with the CFL. It’s clear through our early conversations that we share a passion for football, an expansive sense of possibility, and a deep desire to create more opportunity for players and fans across North America and around the world”
Pollack is no stranger to the world of sports and improving brands. He is a former Commissioner of the WSOP, the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, and a major date on the US sporting calendar. Whilst in the role, Pollack led the brand’s expansion into Europe, with the WSOP Europe, a staple of the poker season. He is known not only for his innovation but also for his aggressive marketing style, which is sure to be attractive to the ailing CFL.
In addition, Pollack recognizes the potential within CFL, a league that started in 1958, in terms of heritage and history. “Blending the CFL’s rich heritage with our fresh thinking, and the unique reach and experience of our ownership could be transformative for the game,” he added.
There are some concerns around the talks, which have not always been conducted with clarity. The longer discussions go on, the more likely a full merger of the two brands becomes, which leads to further questions over the teams that survive, and those that do not. The other, slightly less obvious outcome is a shared infrastructure which means little to fans at the sharp end. The leagues would remain separate entities, but XFL would likely lean heavily on the administration of CFL, which has plenty of experience in pro football, unlike those behind XFL.
The thought of an All-Star game, or indeed a Championship game, is one at the front of fan’s minds though. With different rules currently employed in the two brands, there would have to be an agreement reached, but doubtless, a one-off game would be a broadcast spectacle which could help drive both companies into people’s living rooms, whatever the ultimate outcome of the talks.
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