It was recently speculated, with some grounds, that Vince McMahon may be considering reacquiring the rights to the XFL after filing for bankruptcy. In a recent filing as part of the bankruptcy hearing, he made it clear that that would not be the case. “I’m not going to be a bidder”, he said directly, and that claims that he would were “inflammatory rhetoric and unsubstantiated accusations”.
Of course, it goes without saying that it would be really questionable at best on an ethical level for a business’ owner to declare it bankrupt and then repurchase it tat a bargain just because it hit unpredictable hard economic times. I’m the opposite of an expert on this matter, but I question whether or not that’s even legal—or at least if it should be.
However, just because McMahon says he will not be among the bidders for his now former brand doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to buy it. Last week, for example, Dan Kaplan of The Athletic (who was on the original McMahon story that he has now denied) said that there are many interested parties.
“I don’t know why that’s out there, making me out to be the bad guy, (that) I’m going to buy the XFL back for pennies on the dollar, basically”, McMahon said. “That helped me move into the direction of I’m not going to be a bidder, not going to have anything to do with it. I do hope that someone will pay a lot of money for it, and I do hope that it will survive”.
So…it does kind of sound like he was considering bidding, but then realized it would be horrible publicity after he received just that for the reports that he wanted to do it. Kaplan also quotes McMahon as saying that these allegations have chased away one potential very prominent bidder.
He goes on to report that there are “dozens of potential purchasers” with whom the XFL’s investment bank is engaging in conversation about acquiring the property.
The filing adds that purchasers are looking to “generate revenue and to further establish the league in a content-starved environment in spring 2021 and to avoid leaving space out to 2022 that would allow others to act on the opportunity”.
The XFL earlier this year, in its second incarnation, lasted only five weeks of a planned 10-week regular season, but not because of its own failures. It was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, their first five weeks were by any fair measure rather a success, in terms of ratings, attendance, and even the on-field product.
If they can get back on the field, the right purchaser could still work with the XFL and make it a viable business. But given how much McMahon had to put in just to get it to that point, it’s hard to see. Perhaps in a post-Covid world there will be an endless market for sports. That would be its best chance.