In 2019 the Alliance of American Football kicked-off in hopes of beating the XFL to market. Unfortunately, the league did not allow themselves enough time to secure proper funding for the season.
Charlie Ebersol and the AAF struggled early on, but were seemingly saved by Tom Dundon when it looked like he had put in enough money to keep the league afloat for their inaugural season.
Dundon says that he was coerced into investing in the fledgling league due to “misrepresentations” and is looking to retrieve the $70 Million that he had put into the AAF to keep them afloat, before ultimately pulling the plug on April 2 prior to week 9.
Fast forward to present day. According to Dan Kaplain of The Athletic, Dundon argued in court this week that he, and not hundreds of minor-league football players, should be eligible to receive millions of dollars due as part of a preliminary settlement of the defunct Alliance of American Football bankruptcy.
Dundon bought the AAF in February 2019 and shut it down April 2, 2019, ending the inaugural season two games early, which he now argues the players should not get paid for. Instead, the $5.6 million agreed to in the settlement should go to top creditors like himself, his counsel argued in bankruptcy court this week.
“There’s only $3.9 million, approximately, in the remaining estate, if they’re going to pay out $5.6 million of this and basically creating a right that didn’t exist in the (player) contract, and doesn’t exist now, they are doing so to the prejudice of us, and I think that’s important,” said Brent Hockaday, Dundon’s counsel.
Brian Engel, counsel for the bankruptcy trustee, described this line of argument as objectionable.
“Mr. Dundon is the person who causes the players not to perform by unscheduling their games, and now suggests that their claims are not as good as his,” Engel said. “I don’t really find that offensive, but I do find it wrong and incorrect.”
A lawyer for Charlie Ebersol, Dundon’s former AAF partner, was even sharper in an emailed statement. “Mr. Ebersol has filed papers with the Court officially supporting the AAF players’ right to receive the last two payments on their contract,” wrote Michael Saltz. “Our position is that the players have earned that money, and it is not their fault that others decided to place the AAF into bankruptcy instead of taking all steps at their disposal to help maintain the AAF’s existence.
It’s been over two years since the AAF has played a game, and it’s still a big blame game for everyone involved in the former leadership team. We’re hoping to see a positive outcome to this story, but it’s possible we don’t.
We’ll keep you posted as more information comes out on the lawsuit with the AAF, players and former owners.