On Wednesday, March 10, it was announced that the XFL and CFL are having formal conversations regarding potential future collaboration between the two leagues. The extent of what precisely this means we still have yet to learn.
On Thursday, June Jones, former head coach of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, appeared on TSN 1200 Ottawa’s show ‘The Drive’ to discuss his belief that a full-merger is possible and what these developments could mean for both leagues.
Jones told listeners of the show,
“I think it benefits the CFL, and I think it benefits the American viewers down here. I think it’s TV-related; I believe that’s why they’re considering it now. Of course, the CFL needs to generate some revenues because they were way more dependent on the tickets ticket sales and concessions, and parking than any other league was. So I’m kind of thinking it has a real possibility of happening.”
With the massive differences between the two leagues, a merger would likely come with massive changes. One point being that most American stadiums would not fit the larger field required for the Canadian game. Another point is the majority of Americans have never really shown great interest in 3 down football. When asked about these potential rule changes, Jones stated
“I’m sure they [the fields] can get maybe 5 yards wider, maybe 15-yard endzones instead of the 20-yard endzones, those types of things people are probably considering. I definitely think that the motions, all the Canadian offensive rules should be put into the XFL because it promotes offense so much and is such an advantage for offensive players in the passing game. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens on that. Will it be three-down football or four-down football? I think it’s probably going to be four down football with maybe the Canadian [motion] rules coming into play, which will be a totally offensive league.”
These changes would ultimately still give a much different game than American viewers are used to. Jones believes that even with these somewhat drastic rule changes, the ability to bet and live bet on games would help viewers to learn the rules.
Sports gambling would still have to be approved by the different provinces, but Jones believes it will be approved as sports gambling can generate significant revenue.
Although gambling can be a great revenue generator in the world of live sports, TV deals are still the largest and most stable source of revenue. In regards to the XFL 2020’s TV viewership, Jones stated
“We could see the TV ratings on Fox, ESPN and ABC were over and above the NBA and Major League Baseball for that slot. The advertisers know that; everybody knows that; the key is going to be a successful TV contract. I know that The Rock is the number one NBC player right now. I’m sure they’re in negotiations already or already have it somewhat done with probably NBC and live streaming with NBC Sports.”
Jones was asked if he thinks that the XFL and CFL coming together could become the best feeder league to the NFL that we’ve ever seen? He replied,
“I definitely do; I loved the experience in Houston; we did it right; we did everything like the NFL. It was probably the best-run organization that I’ve been a part of as a football coach. We drafted the players, we did everything, we had no outside influences at all, everybody was paid the same, so it was a lot of fun. I think the number of [XFL 2020] players that are already signed to NFL teams and in Canada right now from that one season kinda answers the question, yes, it will be a great feeder league.”
Although neither the XFL nor CFL have confirmed what their conversations will mean for their league’s futures, with June Jones’s connections to both of these leagues, he may very well be in the loop of what’s going on behind the scenes. This news is both exciting and nerve-racking for many fans, and it will be interesting to see where these conversations lead.
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