The hope for a spring football league has taken a big hit. The Alliance of American Football is suspending operations in the middle of their inaugural season according to multiple sources (first reported by ProFootballTalk).
Although ratings significantly dropped off after a promising debut back in February, the reason for the league’s collapse appears more to do with internal debates about the future of the AAF.
The major player involved is Tom Dundon, the majority owner of the league. Dundon has threatened to pull funding for the league if the NFL Players Association doesn’t comply with the AAF’s request to “borrow” bottom-of-the-roster players from the NFL to help the AAF become the farm league they have always wanted it to be.
“It is just what we think would make this the most compelling league,” Dundon told SportsBusiness Daily earlier in the week.
Insofar, the NFLPA has not been able to reach an agreement with the AAF.
Dundon, who is also the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricane, is apparently at odds with some people inside the AAF:
Perception inside the AAF is that Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon bought a majority stake in the league simply for the gambling app being developed.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 2, 2019
Source: "Dundon got the technology he wanted and he's now minus one rather large headache."
According to ESPN, players are starting to be notified of the league’s suspension. However, the future status of the league remains up in the air. The AAF hasn’t folded, but ProFootballTalk suggests “it’s headed that way.”
Is this the end of the AAF? Does this pave the way for the success of the XFL, which is scheduled to debut in 2020? Does this just prove that at spring football league is non-viable in today’s market?
We’ll see as the situation develops.