What does a potential working relationship mean for both the XFL and CFL?
The XFL and the CFL are working together to “identify opportunities for their leagues to collaborate.”
Here’s what we know so far on a story that is still developing and changing. Conversations have been going on between senior officials of the XFL and CFL for months. Here’s where things currently stand for both leagues.
The CFL is still planning on moving forward with its upcoming 2021 season.
The XFL’s 2022 season is not delayed or postponed but is on pause to focus on these discussions.
Any major developments between the two leagues in these discussions could significantly alter the XFL’s plans moving forward. That’s why the brain trust of the league is pressing the pause button at the moment.
The XFL’s pause gives supporters of both the XFL and CFL great pause, not knowing what to expect moving forward. Recent reports suggest that even the CFL Players Association was in the dark on this matter.
Both leagues have coaches, players, and fans concerned about their futures.
The sense that I’m getting from people in the know is that the XFL’s return is on hold until agreements are made on how the XFL and CFL will be moving forward and collaborating in the future.
Why would a 2022 XFL season be on pause? Well, it’s clearly speculative, on my part, but if the leagues plan on playing together or as one. The timeline for that to happen would have to coincide with one another. Any merger or alignment would require a lot of heavy lifting and would serve as a large undertaking.
One answer to these speculative questions leads to many more questions.
For example, Would an XFL merger with the CFL mean a complete alignment of their teams, seasons, and rules? Would the two leagues operate as separate entities, conferences, or converge ultimately? XFL teams versus CFL teams? Champion versus Champion? 17 teams in total or not? When and where would they play? Field size? etc
For what it’s worth. Officials in the XFL are not currently entertaining any answers to hypothetical questions, quite frankly, because both leagues don’t have all the answers yet.
Everything has been put on pause for the XFL until these discussions with the CFL are over. The XFL’s Chief Football Officer search is also on pause temporarily, a search that has been headed by Gerry Cardinale and former NFL executives Russ Brandon and Alec Scheiner, among others.
One person inside the talks told me when asked about a potential merger of the leagues.
“Don’t jump the gun yet. talks are still developing and have advanced beyond the preliminary stages, but nothing is set in stone or finalized”.
For longtime supporters of alternative pro football leagues. The possibility of the CFL and XFL working together is the equivalent of Marvel and DC teaming up to do films.
In the case of the XFL and CFL, It seems so bizarre and unrealistic. Even though they inhabit a similar space, it’s like the leagues are truly from different worlds.
Full disclosure, now that the cat is out of the bag. I get numerous “insider” stories about the XFL from people that are often unsubstantiated. But the one that sprouted up last year about the CFL and XFL wouldn’t go away. No matter how hard, I tried to dismiss it.
In October of last year, Sources close to the XFL reached out to me to float the possibility of an XFL-CFL working relationship. I brushed off the idea of an alignment or potential merger between the two leagues, despite, The Rock’s history with the CFL itself.
The whole idea seemed too far-fetched to happen. And initially, the info I gathered last fall indicated that the XFL’s owners Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital Partners thought it was a long shot too. The interest on their end was already there.
On the other end, how receptive would the CFL be to uniting with the XFL? The public now knows the answer to that question.
The CFL is one of the leagues that has been hit the hardest during the pandemic. They didn’t have the luxury that other established sports leagues have, of leaning on guaranteed funding, as the NFL and others have, and they are certainly challenged when it comes to the resources needed to operate within a pandemic.
The CFL has lost tens of millions of dollars, and even if they return in 2021, there’s doubt that they will be able to get back on track financially. Their season is still very much up in the air, from the length of their season, to when and where the games will be played.
Perhaps, if the CFL wasn’t in such financial peril, that they wouldn’t have answered the XFL’s call, to begin with.
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambroise has talked recently about adapting and changing the league’s business model moving forward. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
This doesn’t mean that the CFL owners will be bought out, but perhaps a partnership with the XFL can help them evolve during these trying times. There is no doubt that RedBird Capital, Dany Garcia, and Dwayne Johnson’s sports and entertainment connections can help the Canadian league expand its overall business model and opportunities.
The sports world has become an adapt or die game. The XFL is back from the dead, and their return may ultimately save the CFL from its own impending death.
Both the XFL and CFL share in the same misfortunes recently, and perhaps in the unique universe, we now live in. The stars have brought them together and aligned for both leagues while they work towards a new world. Together.
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