As you know, the XFL is currently in the midst of a Bankruptcy trial that seems like it may ultimately lead to the league returning for a 2021 season. We recently obtained the transcripts of the latest hearing to see if there was anything of interest that we could report back to the masses.
Before we jump into everything, I want to thank Jake of the STL BattleCast for assisting in reading through the court transcripts; make sure to drop him a follow.
During the hearing the debtors were in court to discuss the upcoming bid procedure and to finalize the sale process with the ultimate hope of completing a sale by the first week of August to allow the new owners to hit the ground running for a swift return.
In the transcripts we do find some more major details surrounding this case; which touch on the company structure, timelines and auction process. As it stands now, the hope is to have a sale finalized by August 3rd. It’s going to be a tight push, leaving only six months from the time of sale to the relaunch. Although, with the proposed 2021 season structure it’s definitely possible.
So… What did we learn?
Only 9 Employees Remain in the XFL
We already knew that the league had downsized significantly shortly before filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, but we never knew the full scope. Due to these transcripts we’re learning that the league has only nine employees on the payroll at the time.
It does not mention who they are and what their roles are, but it’s safe to say the league is working at minimum capacity at the moment. President Jeffrey Pollack is still with the XFL, leaving eight other staff members; most of which either work in accounting and maintaining the XFL shop.
Emphasis on a 2021 Season
One of the most amazing turn of events this year was the notion that the XFL may somehow return for a 2021 season post-bankruptcy. This also seems to re-confirm that interested parties are saying that going forward in 2021 is absolutely important.
Attention was surrounding the brand, momentum behind the brand. But it’s also a double-edged sword, as well. We need to capitalize and continue to capitalize on that momentum. And as a result, bidders that we’ve speaking to are saying going forward in 2021 is absolutely important.
So, if 2021 is on the table, when is it kicking off?
Kickoff – Weekend after Super Bowl
I’m assuming you read the big bold headline above this, so you already know that the goal is to start the season one week after the Super Bowl. If you’re not aware, this is the same strategy that the league used in both 2001 and 2020.
…timing is important with respect to the success of the XFL occurring immediately after the Super Bowl, prior to the start of the MLB season, Major League Baseball season, and playoffs for the NBA, as well as the NHL. It found its sweet spot, Your Honor, starting right after the Super Bowl.
It’s also critical, as laid out, to maintain the momentum of the brand and to avoid what is somewhat referred to as “white space.” Your Honor may have seen that there’s been successful relaunches of the NASCAR, of UFC — PGA is going to start, bull-riding. The ever-changing landscape is creating more momentum, and the debtor wants to obviously jump on that momentum.
No Stalking-horse bidder… yet
At the moment it is going to be an open auction, with no stalking-horse, but with the ability to potentially secure one and come back to the court.
…we don’t have a stalking horse bidder, so nobody is going to know who the winning bidder is.
A stalking-horse bid is an initial bid on the assets of a bankrupt company. The bankrupt company will choose an entity from a pool of bidders who will make the first bid on the firm’s remaining assets. The stalking horse sets the low-end bidding bar so that other bidders can not underbid the purchase price. The term “stalking horse” originates from a hunter trying to conceal himself behind either a real or fake horse.
The deadline to secure a stalking-horse bidder was originally set for July 1st, but will be moved to July 23rd. Sale objections would shift from July 6th to the 13th. Under these rules the XFL auction would take place from July 8th to August 3rd, with a post-auction objection deadline of August 5th at 1pm EST.
Season Ticket Refunds will be Discussed at a Later Date
If you’ve been following the XFL’s Bankruptcy case, you’ll know that there has been a point of disagreement whether or not to cover the season ticket refunds. Back, before the league shutdown there was a push for 2021, including allowing 2020 season ticket holders to put their remaining funds towards next season. When the league made the announcement that refunds would be given to 2021 season ticket holders, the money didn’t come from Ticketmaster; it came via a load from Vince McMahon himself.
This was one of the issues that could possibly jeopardize the timing of the sale, but it seems the debtor’s are proposing to tackle this issue at a later time.
Your Honor probably may recall there was some significant back-and-forth at the first-day hearing over the season ticket refunds. The committee had filed an objection; and, in light of the objection, while the debtor continues to believe that payment of season ticket holder refunds is important, it’s agreed to adjourn that to some date to be determined, as an accommodation right for the committee, while we work through the sale process and the other, what I would call more “major” issues that the company is facing.
We’re still a couple months from officially knowing what the future holds for the XFL. Reading through the court transcripts, it seems that there is a lot of confidence that there will be a buyer that is more than competent to maintain the XFL for many years to come. We know there are at least 20 bidders that have been approved through the court; the group includes major media companies, private investment firms and a couple folks with very deep pockets.
The closer we get to the sale date, the more information we’ll know. As always, we’ll keep you posted as more news comes out.
Do you think the XFL will return in 2021? If so, will you support it? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.