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Arena Football League shuts down team operations, on brink of folding

The Arena Football League is on the brink of folding after its six franchises closed local business operations.

The indoor American football league, which was founded in 1987, has yet to determine whether it will suspend all leagues operations completely.

“That’s a decision that will probably be made in the next several weeks,” AFL commissioner Randall Boe told the Albany Times Union. “We do know, under any set of circumstances, we will not be continuing to operate business operation units in our local markets.”

At the heart of the league’s financial problems is a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against the AFL by insurance company National Union over alleged unpaid premiums and payment for a previous settlement over a workers’ compensation policy.

The AFL has long had financial problems, though, contracting from 14 teams in 2014 to just four in 2018 before expanding to six this year. Current franchises are located in Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Atlantic City, Columbus and Albany. Both the Washington and Baltimore franchises are owned by Monumental Sports and Entertainment, led by Ted Leonsis.

It is possible that the AFL could continue as a touring model, similar to the Premier Lacrosse League. “We have been evaluating that as a potential model to go forward and keep the league alive,” Boe added. “I hesitate to say that we have a sense that that is likely to be successful. It’s the thing that we’re looking at. We really don’t see an alternative to that.”

The imminent collapse of the AFL follows the demise of the outdoor Alliance of American Football after just eight weeks earlier this year.