XFL files for bankruptcy, cites COVID-19 crisis

The XFL filed for bankruptcy on Monday, likely spelling the end of the second iteration of the league.

The WWE-backed XFL had canceled the rest of its return season last month because of the coronavirus pandemic. It suspended operations and laid off its employees Friday.

The league said Monday in a news release that it wasn't insulated “from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis.”

“This is a heartbreaking time for many, including our passionate fans, players and staff, and we are thankful to them, our television partners, and the many Americans who rallied to the XFL for the love of football,” the league said in its statement.

The XFL had eight franchises this season and played five games out of a planned 10-game schedule. It drew decent TV ratings early on and had deals with ESPN and Fox.

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But spring football is a difficult challenge, as the Alliance of American Football found out in 2019, not lasting a full season.

Eight major cities were home to their own respective XFL teams who would compete in nationally-televised games. Besides being played in the spring, the primary difference between the NFL and the XFL were unique and exciting changes to established professional football rules, such as allowing for two forward passes each play.

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Despite strong ratings and fan reception, the bankruptcy and cancellation of the XFL season is not surprising, considering how restrictions enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic have rendered the operation of any professional sports essentially impossible.

Major League Baseball has suspended its opening day, while the NHL and NBA have halted the progression of those current seasons.

Although no announcement has been made regarding the future of its upcoming season, the NFL recently announced it would be resorting to virtual measures for its 2020 draft.

The XFL also played one season in 2001.