If you’ve been a fan of the Alliance of American Football, you might want to catch as many games as you’d like this weekend. It might be their last. Rumors have swirled over the last 72 hours about the status and future of the league. And according to this report from Pro Football Talk, while the league will play this weekend, there’s no guarantee the future beyond that is anyone’s guess.
“Per a source with knowledge of the league’s plans, games will be played this weekend, Week Eight of the inaugural season. Beyond this weekend, however, it’s entirely possible that the plug will be pulled.”
Majority owner Tom Dundon, who basically saved the league with a whopping $250 million investment before the start of the year essentially said the league can’t survive without a partnership from the NFL. An agreement that doesn’t seem close to happening.
Dundon said the vision was to not only use the AAF as a feeder/minor league to the NFL but also roster their players. From USA Today.
“The AAF was hoping to get permission to use practice squad players, particularly No. 3 quarterbacks and young linemen starting next season. The AAF’s game plan was to be to the NFL what Class AAA baseball is to Major League Baseball.”
There are some reasonable objections from the league and union to that request. Teams risking injury and coaching that may differ from what the NFL club does. If that set-up is what the AAF has always been banking on, then their days may really be numbered.
While TV ratings have seemed to hold up well enough, even with the predictable decrease from its impressive debut, attendance has fallen. Hard. The average number across the league is a little more than 15,000 fans per game while even the top clubs struggle to crack 20,000. As few as 6500 people showed up for one game hosted by the Birmingham Iron, the Steelers’ affiliate, for whatever that’s worth.
The league is in danger of falling into the same trap as all the ones before it. Money. It’s obvious but true that is costs a lot to run an entire league and get everyone paid. Reportedly, some league vendors haven’t received their latest check. If Dundon pulls his investment, if the league can’t work out an agreement with the NFL and NFLPA, it feels certain the league will be one-and-done. And that’s if they can even make it to the finish line.