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XFL to introduce nine-point touchdowns, shootout style overtime

The rebooted XFL will introduce nine-point touchdowns as part of its rules, which are designed to speed up play and add excitement for fans.

Following a six-point touchdown, the eight-team league will have options for extra points worth one, two or three points. This includes a one-point play from the two-yard line, a two-point play from the five-yard line or a three-point play from the 10-yard line. There is no option to kick an extra point.

If the defense is able to cause a turnover and return the ball to the opponent’s end zone, the resulting score is equal to the number of points the offence was attempting to score.

“We think the tiered extra point brings an element of strategy that will be fascinating to watch. Potential points on the board are exciting plays and will add an exciting element to our game,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said.

Other rule tweaks include: the right to throw two forward passes on one play, providing the first throw doesn’t go past the line of scrimmage; a 25-second play clock that begins after the ball is spotted for the next play; a requirement for only one foot to be in bounds for possession; two one-minute timeouts per half; a dedicated Ball Spotting Official who will solely be responsible for quickly spotting the ball and getting a new ball after each play; and a running game clock that won’t stop after incomplete passes or when players go out of bounds, except the last two minutes of each half.

There will also be a soccer-style shootout in overtime, in which each team will get five single-play possessions from the five-yard line. If the game is still tied at that point, rotating possessions will continue until there is a winner.

According to an XFL press release: “NFL overtime can end in a tie and a team’s offense may never see the field. Overtime may also take up to 27 minutes to complete in the NFL. XFL overtime allows both teams to play offense, in under 10 minutes, and always has a winner.”

Luck added: “From research we had done, fans think there’s too much downtime and dead time. I suppose games have gotten longer, We wanted to take a step forward by going back to games under three hours based on all our fan research. More action and more plays speed it up.

“Our data analysts looked at hundreds of games. This makes sense from a flow perspective, TV perspective and fan perspective. And I am looking forward to as we launch, will our players be required to be in better shape? They’ll be moving fast and playing with tempo. That is going to be neat; conditioning may play more of a role in our game.”

The XFL is backed by WWE owner Vince McMahon, who has invested nearly $400m (€459m) in the venture. The first version of the XFL, a joint project between WWE and NBC, lasted just one season in 2001.

In the United States, the XFL has agreed multi-year rights deals with ESPN and Fox Sports. From the inaugural 2020 season, XFL games will air weekly on broadcast television (ABC and Fox Sports) complemented by games on cable (ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2). ABC will broadcast the inaugural game, between the DC Defenders and Seattle Dragons, at Audi Field in Washington, DC, on February 8, at 2pm ET.

Earlier this week, the XFL announced a multi-year partnership with sports data and technology company Genius Sports to protect the start-up league against the threats of improper and illegal sports betting.