XFL Lays Off Employees, Suspends Operations After Coronavirus Halted Debut Season

Vince McMahon-backed football league shuts down for a second time

XFL 2020

The XFL suspended operations and laid off all its employees on Friday, according to multiple media reports.

The decision comes a few weeks after the league’s debut season ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reps for the league did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

ESPN reporter Field Yates said that XFL COO Jeffery Pollack told him employees were informed on Friday, with NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo adding that they will be paid through Sunday, but beyond that, the league’s future is up in the air.

If the league were to be shut down, it would mark the second time the XFL has failed to last beyond its initial season. This was the second attempt by WWE chairman Vince McMahon to create a spring professional football league, following an earlier failed attempt in 2001.

The league’s return got off to a good start in February averaging more than 3 million viewers across its opening weekend. But ratings would taper off in the weeks since. On March 20, the league ended its season early amid the spread of COVID-19.

McMahon announced the XFL’s relaunch back in January 2018, promising a “fan-centric, innovative experience” that includes “shorter, fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment.” The first edition of the XFL was a disaster for McMahon and NBC, which aired the league’s only season in 2001. The original XFL was beset by poor play and even worse TV ratings — in 2001, NBC did not yet have “Sunday Night Football,” which aired on ESPN at the time.