The Alliance of American Football is suspending operations before the conclusion of its inaugural season, putting the league’s future in serious doubt.
There had been signs of trouble of late for the AAF, which began play in February as a new eight-team spring professional football league. Majority owner Tom Dundon–who in February committed to invest $250 million during what was reportedly a critical point for the league’s finances–had indicated last week that the AAF’s future would be in jeopardy if the NFL Players’ Association would not agree to allow the circuit to become a development league for the NFL.
The league is now set to suspend operations, which had first been revealed in news reports–including those from Action Network and Pro Football Talk–that surfaced during the day on Tuesday. The decision to suspend operations does not mean the AAF has folded, but it does leave plenty of doubts about its future. More from Pro Football Talk:
The league won’t be folding, yet. But it seems to be moving in that direction.
The move comes in the aftermath of ominous comments from Tom Dundon, who became majority owner of the AAF several weeks ago. Dundon committed $250 million in funding to the league, but he had the ability to pull funding, and he obviously has.
Last night, a source told PFT that the AAF needed roughly $20 million to get to the end of its first season. Instead, the season will end with two weeks left in the regular season, and with a four-team postseason that never comes to fruition.
The AAF was initially co-founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, the latter of whom confirmed that Dundon has decided to suspend operations. Polian and Ebersol had apparently believed that the AAF would finish out its inaugural season and make adjustments from there, but that will not be the case. More from ESPN:
After eight weeks of games and less than one season into Alliance of American Football’s existence, league owner Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all operations, league co-founder Bill Polian confirmed to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen on Tuesday.
“I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football,” Polian said in a statement Tuesday. “When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.
“The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity.”
There was some initial optimism surrounding the AAF, which packaged a decent on-field product with intriguing technology offerings, but it has not been able to overcome some obstacles over its first over the first season. Tuesday’s reported decision to suspend operations does not spell the immediate end for the league, though it leaves its future uncertain and is certainly not what some backers had envisioned at the onset of its inaugural season.
Image courtesy The Alliance.
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