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Merged XFL-USFL League Announcement Finally Arrives New Year’s Eve On FOX NFL Sunday

The big news everyone has been waiting for the XFL and USFL to share finally arrives New Year’s Eve on FOX NFL Sunday.

XFL And USFL Uniting

The early word, dating back to the middle of December, was that there would be a joint announcement once terms of the government-approved merger of the XFL and USFL were finalized by league leadership.

It’s expected that FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks and XFL Owners Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Dany Garcia will be front and center on FOX’s NFL Sunday programming to make the big announcement with pertinent league news to follow into the New Year.

After months of speculation in a cloud of darkness where fan reporters, certain outlets, and even players and agents ran with second-hand information, the finalization of the USFL-XFL merged league will be formalized with details of the new entity seeing the light.

The choice to make this announcement on FOX during NFL programming is a wise one. The goal of these two merged entities, the USFL and XFL, is to attract mainstream NFL and college football fans to their product when the league’s season starts on Saturday, March 30th.

Both the XFL and USFL produced respectable numbers in the sports TV landscape in 2023 with games on FOX, ABC, NBC, ESPN, and other cable outlets. However, there was a lack of growth in interest for the USFL in year two of their reboot. And the XFL didn’t hit the home run they expected when they revived a well-received league in 2020.

Part of the reason for the limit on what many see as a niche audience for both leagues is the cannibalization that occurred this past Spring with both leagues airing opposed to one another on weekends.

The rumored and trademarked name for the XFL-USFL merged is the United Football League. Perhaps a last-second change in branding could arrive during Sunday’s announcement. After all, the entire lead into this finalization of the merger has been fluid from day one up until the eleventh hour.

However, the term United is a central selling point for this merged league’s launch.

The early word was that only eight serving teams of the 16 markets that inhabited this American Spring Pro Football space would return for the 2024 season. The markets reported to be back in the new USFL-XFL configuration are Arlington, Houston, San Antonio, St. Louis, DC, Birmingham, Michigan, and Memphis.

All teams in the potential UFL are expected to play in their home markets. The season starts on March 30th and ends the weekend of June 16th. A ten-week regular season with two weeks of playoffs.

The one question still up in the air is Houston. The word has been that there have been discussions, even at this late stage, about retaining the Roughnecks brand with the Gamblers players and coaches under that umbrella. It would make for a strange set of circumstances.

There’s also the matter of where Houston will play. The Roughnecks played at DCEU stadium last season but with the venue under construction. The league has had to pivot and look at options like the ancient Rice Stadium and Shell Energy, home to Texas Southern and Dynamo MLS contests. The former appears to be the fallback option.

XFL-USFL Upcoming Drafts/New Coaches

For months on end, there have been reports about a dispersal draft of players who are on USFL and XFL teams that will be put on pause mode for 2024. Dating back to a Neil Stratton report that surmised that such a process would take place before Thanksgiving.

Official details on the player protection and drafting process haven’t been finalized yet. But there’s word that a dispersal process, one of multiple drafts, will take place on January 5th. Football events leading into Training camp at the merged league’s hub headquarters on February 23rd in Arlington.

There’s also the matter of ironing out the unionization of the league’s players. There’s plenty of confusion to go around in that area.

The 12/31 merged league announcement falls in line perfectly with the league’s coaches starting on payroll January 1st. They will be on the books until July 1st.

The latter is something that led to a fallout from San Antonio’s 2023 head coach Hines Ward, who passed on signing the new league contract, which would see a reduction in pay for his contract in 20245.

As a result, There was a shake-up in the Alamo as Wade Phillips, who was under a two-year contract with the XFL, slid into Ward’s spot in San Antonio.

The New League is presenting a new, exciting world in spring pro football. Both leagues are coming together to transition from surviving to thriving. The combination of FOX Sports, Disney, RedBird Capital, Dwayne Johnson, and Dany Garcia should be a very formidable group to help make this concept thrive.

The quality of football in both leagues has been very good. That’s a credit to league and team player personnel evaluators, the players themselves, and coaches who have taken the plunge in the XFL and USFL.

The two leagues combined this late spring/summer to have nearly 120 players sign on with NFL teams. There are 23 XFL 2023 players currently on NFL rosters. Counting the 2022 and 2023 class of the USFL, there are over two dozen players from the league in the NFL. Players like Brandon Aubrey and KaVontae Turpin are All-Pros after honing their skills in the USFL.

The newly merged league will be a one-stop destination for the best players not in the NFL who want to play an NFL-style in America.

However, there’s a bittersweet aspect to all of this.

Depending on how things are laid out. This could be the end of the revived USFL and XFL brands.

For as much as the two entities are dismissed by uninformed casual fans. Both leagues have dedicated supporters who believe in the brands. It will be hard to transition away from that for a new brand.

On top of that, it’s challenging to get excited about this merged league when the space is losing teams. And people will be losing jobs. We had it great in 2023, with 16 American pro football teams playing in the NFL offseason. Over 800 players were employed professionally to play pro football in the non-NFL offseason. As well as hundreds of coaches, team and league employees.

Many of whom will be out of work with their dreams being dashed. So many employees have been left in the dark, twisting in the wind with their fate and livelihood on the line. Clarity arrives in the New Year for everyone involved in this space. But as the great Rocky Balboa once said, it won’t all be sunshine and rainbows. But for spring pro football advocates, it’s the new world we will be living in.

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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