The XFL could make its return in a “bubble” environment in 2021 or 2022 following the start-up league’s recent takeover.
The bankrupt spring-season American football league is poised to be acquired for $15m by an investment group which is headlined by Hollywood star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and American investment firm RedBird Capital Partners.
Johnson’s business partner, Dany Garcia, who is also his ex-wife, is also an investor. They are co-founders of multiplatform entertainment company Seven Bucks Companies.
The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval at a hearing on August 7 and, if approved, a deal is scheduled to be completed around August 21.
It remains unclear when the XFL will make its return and in what format, but a quarantined environment remains a possibility as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
Garcia told Yahoo Sports: “What we do have in our back pocket is scenarios where we do go in 2021 and 2022. We have eight teams so we do have the ability to ‘bubble’. We’re really looking at that. I think the audience is getting used to not having fans, fan sounds, as odd as it is, it seems to be working, obviously if that bodes well I think there’s a case for 2021 but we’re going to be figuring that out.
“It’s about the safety of the players, really making sure we can have the players safe and have a level of play that is still high quality. I would love to see it happen in 2021 but we are taking our time,” she added.
Other major American sports leagues who have opted for a bubble-type environment have generally done better in their resumptions of play than have those such as Major League Baseball that have used market-based strategies to return and have needed to health and safety retool protocols significantly.
XFL president Jeffrey Pollack, who led the league’s sales process, described the planned takeover as a “Hollywood ending.”
The deal, however, is now being challenged in a subsequently filed, 14-page objection by a committee of the XFL’s unsecured creditors. Among the committee’s concerns is that the sale agreement contains the potential ability for the new owners to claw back payments the league made in the year prior to its bankruptcy filing in April.
“While the Committee generally supports a sale to the Buyer … the terms of the transaction as currently proposed are objectionable, as they are not in the best interests of the estate, would surrender critical sources of recovery for unsecured creditors and are generally inconsistent with market standards,” the committee wrote.
There are also no funds coming out of the sale for hundreds of former front office employees, vendors, and other similar entities, helping fuel the unsecured creditors’ objection.