XFL Shuts Down, No Plans to Return in 2021

The spring football league owned by the WWE's Vince McMahon stopped play midway through its first season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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The XFL is suspending operations effective immediately, a month after the spring football league stopped play due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league, owned by WWE chairman Vince McMahon, currently has no plans to start up again 2021. With the shutdown, nearly all staffers were laid off.

When play stopped after five weeks, the league said it planned to return next year. Per an ESPN report, that changed Friday when CEO Jeffrey Pollack told employees on a conference call the XFL was shutting down.

"Given the uncertainty of the current environment, the XFL has suspended operations and is evaluating next steps,” the league said in a statement.

The 2020 version of the XFL was the second attempt by McMahon to start a spring football league. The first, in 2001, played a single season before folding due to plummeting TV ratings after a strong start and poor quality of play.

The new version scrapped some of the pro wrestling-style aggro attitude in favor of some innovative rule changes (including ones related to kickoffs and point-after-touchdown attempts) and a better on-field product. The league had TV partnerships with Fox Sports and ESPN/ABC and was averaging a little above 18,000 fans per game in attendance.

TV ratings got off to a decent start, with the four games on opening weekend averaging about 3.1 million viewers. The numbers declined each week after that, with the final set of games March 7 and 8 averaging 1.16 million on ABC, Fox, ESPN and FS1.

The XFL is the second spring football league in as many years to fold partway through its inaugural season. In 2019, the Alliance of American Football shut down after eight weeks, owing primarily to financial difficulties.

April 10, 3:15 p.m. Updated with XFL statement.