CFL could play two seasons before merger, XFL relaunch likely delayed to 2023: report

The ongoing talks between the XFL and CFL have many fans north of the 49th parallel in a state of existential panic, but they aren’t the only ones struggling to face the realities surrounding their league.

While publicizing their conversations with the three down league, XFL leadership announced their 2022 launch was on hold while talks progress. Most dismissed it as a short term delay, but XFL insider Mike Mitchell sees things quite differently.

In a detailed examination of the situation for XFL News Hub, Mitchell had this to say.

“What’s staring all of us in the face right now is the reality that the XFL will not be returning to the field in 2022. It’s the elephant in the room that everyone knows is there but doesn’t want to acknowledge.”

While the XFL may not take the field for two years, the CFL remains focused on the 2021 season and, despite a bleak outlook from some, is in a much better position than their XFL brethren.

The CFL is in a much better position to get on the field and play than the XFL is.

After all, the CFL is a fully constituted league, from top to bottom. Complete with an entire team of employees in the league offices, nine complete rosters, and coaching staffs. A TV deal, sponsorships, stadiums to play, a full schedule, etc.

The XFL right now has none of those things. They have Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Gerry Cardinale, and RedBird Capital Partners as their owners. Jeffrey Pollack as their CEO. And a handful of league employees. That’s it. The XFL is still tying up loose ends from its bankruptcy and dealing with the residual effects.”

The Rock, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital were selected as the winning bidder last August for all of the assets of Alpha Entertainment LLC, the parent company of the XFL. It cost $15 million and the goal is to make the XFL a stable league in the future. The CFL has been awarding the Grey Cup for over 100 years. Meanwhile, the original XFL lasted one full season in 2001 and five games in 2020.

Mitchell cites sources saying the XFL search for a Chief Financial Officer, a requirement for relaunch, has been called off as evidence of the likely delay to 2023 and some believe that those vacant leadership position could be filled by those in the CFL league office.

That would require a full-scale merger and integration, something that simply won’t be possible ahead of the 2022 launch date.

“For a hypothetical merger to happen, the XFL’s intended February 2022 timeline has to shift dramatically. The upcoming CFL season runs until November. The turnaround for both leagues to start a merger in 2022 would be very difficult to pull off in that timeframe.

Based on the CFL’s TV contract with their partner TSN, which runs through 2025, and the requirements that the games take place in July and August. The XFL and CFL running side by side would require long term planning and execution.”

The CFL reportedly lost between $60 and $80 million last year after the Canadian government refused to provide a $30 million interest-free loan a year ago. They’ll lose millions more if any kind of season is played in 2021 but they must play regardless to begin recouping losses and stay relevant.

Funding from the XFL could lessen that burden, but not enough to keep them off the field. Logistically, that means one thing.

“In summation, it’s entirely plausible that we could get two CFL seasons in 2021 and 2022 before the XFL is ready to begin to play with the CFL in 2023. Presumably sometime in the late spring. April perhaps?”

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