XFL Lays Off Employees, Shuts Down Operations After Suspending Season Due to Coronavirus Spread
The coronavirus epidemic had initially forced this season into hiatus
Vince McMahon’s second attempt at making the XFL a legitimate contender in the world of professional football has come to an end.
According to multiple outlets, including USA Today and ESPN, XFL CEO Jeffrey Pollack announced in a conference call Friday that the league had laid off nearly all of its employees and had no plans to hold another season in 2021.
The news comes early a month after the league announced it had joined the NBA, MLB and NHL in suspending their seasons amid the spread of coronavirus, which has forced the closure of non-essential businesses around the country.
But unlike the other sports leagues, the XFL was just five games into its inaugural season when it went into hiatus. Without an established fan base for its product or steady cash flow from ticket sales, a lengthy suspension to their operations was bound to be costly for the upstart league.
The XFL did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
This was the XFL’s first attempt to resurrect itself since its original debut in 2001, which only lasted a single season. The original version of the league promised a brand of football even more violent than the NFL but ended up costing both WWE — and broadcaster NBC — millions of dollars.
While Pollack did not go as far as saying the XFL was going out of business, a staffer on the call said they were told the league was “done,” and “it’s not coming back,” according to ESPN.
It was in 2018 that McMahon — the longtime head of professional wrestling company WWE — announced he planned to relaunch the brand in 2020 with eight teams and 40-man rosters.
Unlike its previous incarnation, the organization tried to bill itself as a safer and faster version of the game seen in the NFL, with a slew of rule changes to make that happen.
“The new XFL will kick off in 2020, and quite frankly, we’re going to give the game of football back to fans,” McMahon said during his 2018 news conference about his vision for the league.
The league eventually launched with a collection of teams spread throughout the country: the Dallas Renegades, D.C. Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks, Seattle Dragons and Tampa Bay Vipers.
Proving how quickly the coronavirus outbreak has impacted businesses around the world, Pollack and XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said just last month that the league had planned to pick up again in 2021.