XFL talks a ‘complete colossal waste of time, energy and resources’: Arash Madani

Photo courtesy: Arash Madani

With the news that the CFL and XFL have broken off talks on how the two leagues might work together, many CFL fans breathed a sigh of relief. Arash Madani, on the other hand, has some questions.

The fiery Sportsnet reporter was in fine form on Thursday, rattling off one of his classic rants on The Rod Pedersen Show with more than enough rhetorical venom to go around.

“Randy Ambrosie, last summer when they cancelled the season, said this is going to be a valuable opportunity for us to go generate new revenue and increase their business model,” Madani noted when asked about his thoughts on the failed merger.

“So what have they done? They have cut costs at every turn. They have slashed staff at every turn.”

Ambrosie entered into the talks with XFL in March saying he was in search of “a bigger, more successful CFL.” Madani believes the fact he hasn’t found it falls squarely on the commissioner’s shoulders.

“What have Randy’s two big projects been? One is CFL 2.0, which is the Global program, and two is the XFL merger. A merger that the league through its mouthpieces wanted everyone to know and think that if you do not go forward with this merger, then the league will not financially survive. Now suddenly that blew up and the governors have realized we can? Which is it going to be? What have you accomplished other than wasting time?” Madani queried, before answering his own question.

“The fact that the Edmonton Elks Football organization came out and said we are ‘pleased’ — that was the word they used, ‘pleased’ — that this song and dance, that this charade — my words, not theirs — is now over… That is all this has been — a complete colossal waste of time, energy, and resources.”

Madani has long been a vocal critic of Ambrosie, the Global player program, and in particular, the XFL talks. While XFL co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stated at the time he was excited for the ‘unique opportunity’ the CFL and XFL ‘can potentially create together, Madani believed from the start that the “twice-failed league” was looking for more of a one-way street.

“The CFL had no leverage in anything. The XFL was running the conversation in terms of, ‘We’re going to do it our way and you guys are either going to be onboard or you’re not.’ That’s the bottom line in all of this,” he explained.

“What did the CFL have to really offer other than just nine franchises for a U.S. broadcast deal? And they were going to have the baby go out with the bathwater if they were going to move forward with this.”

While the league’s owners presented a united front in favour of exploring all options, behind closed doors the Elks are not the only franchise relieved that The Rock, Dany Garcia and Redbird Capital won’t be determining the future of the league.

“I’m told it’s not just Edmonton that is relieved about this. I’m told there are multiple teams that are happy that this charade is now over,” Madani said. “This was just desperation to try something.”

In his estimation, Ambrosie and the CFL have failed to use the opportunity to open new revenue streams. Single-game wagering will not be a magic bullet and Madani views the Global program, still in its infancy, as an abject failure after the league reduced the number of Global players in their amended 2021 CBA.

That leaves him with a few more important questions and a depressing answer.

“How far ahead is the CFL, having had a full year to start looking ahead? Come December, where is the league? Besides the Grey Cup fan base fiasco, what else have they done?” Madani asked accusingly. “They are right back at square one.”