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NHL team owner steps in as AAF chairman

Thomas Dundon, owner of NHL ice hockey franchise the Carolina Hurricanes, has invested $250m (€220.8m) into the Alliance of American Football (AAF), but the fledgling league has denied reports that the financial injection represents a bailout.

The news was confirmed today (Tuesday) and comes after the AAF launched its debut season on February 9. Dundon will serve as the league’s chairman, effective immediately.

Dundon’s investment was first reported by The Athletic website, which stated that the AAF was in danger of not making payroll on Friday before the fresh cash injection. AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol denied that Dundon’s introduction represents a bailout for the league.

“This has been an extraordinary undertaking for us,” he said, according to ESPN.com. “It’s a giant challenge and opportunity, and as a startup you are constantly looking for some peace of mind. When we got out of the first week of games, we saw there was so much interest from investors, and if we had one person who could take care of us for a very long time, that would be great.”

Dundon is the NHL’s newest owner, having purchased a majority stake in the Hurricanes in January 2018. He has denied that his investment will impact upon his interest in the NHL team. “Although I talk to (the Hurricanes’ general manager) Don Waddell and I’m involved, I don’t have a day-to-day responsibility and therefore I have lots of excess time,” Dundon told the Charlotte Observer newspaper.

“If I didn’t do this, I was going to go buy a company and start running a company again. I needed more to do. I feel like the Hurricanes are in good hands, the business is running well. It’s still something I love and have conversations about and want to keep improving, but it’s not a full-time job. It never really was. It definitely isn’t at this point.”

He added: “I want the Hurricanes to win more than anything. The difference in this league is I just want the league to win. I was at the San Antonio game Sunday and it was really nice not to care about who won.”

For more on the vision behind the AAF, click here.