The merger of USFL and XFL isn’t just about consolidating two spring football leagues. According to Larry Jones, a former Fox Sports EVP and consultant to the network, it marks the beginning of a strategic plan to sell club franchises in a few years, positioning the merged entity as a major player in the football space.
3 Key Points:
- Strategic Ownership Structure: Fox Sports owns the USFL, while RedBird Capital Partners, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Dany Garcia spearhead the ownership of the XFL.
- Expansion Plan: Post-merger, the goal is to sell teams and expand equity beyond the existing ownership.
- Distribution Channels: Fox looks poised to become a primary distributor, given past affiliations with both leagues.
Setting the Landscape:
In recent sports management discussions Sports Business Journals Ben Fischer noted, Larry Jones, a former Fox Sports EVP and current consultant, alluded to the future of the merged spring football league. The plan? In three to four years, venture out and sell club franchises. This is a significant move, as currently, Fox Sports wholly owns the USFL, and the XFL sees its ownership led by influential figures backed by RedBird Capital Partners.
The Path to Merging:
Announced on September 28th, the decision to merge the USFL and XFL came after a year of direct competition in the spring football realm. Such a merger not only combines resources but strategically positions the merged entity to potentially outdo what they achieved separately.
However, the merger isn’t a straightforward process. It is under the careful review of the Justice Department, ensuring that anti-trust clearance is appropriately handled. During this sensitive phase, both leagues have maintained discretion, offering minimal details to the public. XFL News Hub’s Mike Mitchell reported that the deal is done and it is just waiting for regulatory approval which could come by the end of the month.
Larry Jones further indicated Fox’s intention to be one of the main distributors for the merged league. With USFL’s history with Fox Sports and NBC, and the XFL’s prior broadcasts on Disney platforms, the distribution strategy post-merger will be keenly observed. XFL News Hub has also reported that part of the deal would be all games on Broadcast TV and not on cable or stream. The goal to get as many eyes on the product as possible.
Equity Distribution – The Future:
The merger’s most intriguing aspect is the eventual plan to spread equity by selling teams. As emphasized by Larry Jones, the merged league intends to “go out to sell teams” within three years. This move, if realized, will potentially change the ownership dynamics and bring new stakeholders into the fold.
Prospects of Success:
The million-dollar question, however, remains: Will a unified spring league succeed better together than the two did individually? Historical data shows both leagues managed to survive independently, but neither showcased significant thriving potential. This merger, along with the planned equity distribution, could very well be the game-changer both leagues are banking on.
As the landscapes of USFL and XFL converge, the future of spring football is poised for an evolution. The strategy of selling club franchises might just be the winning touchdown both entities are aiming for. Only time will unveil if the merger will redefine spring football or merely be another play in the game.
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