XFL, CFL exploring future partnership

By Kevin Kelley -

The XFL and the CFL (Canadian Football League) are exploring a future partnership together, ESPN reported on Wednesday.

The XFL, which ended their 2020 season due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequently filed for bankruptcy, was later purchased by The Rock and Redbird Capital for $15 million.

Canadian Football League action in 2020 was scheduled to begin last May, but the league delayed the start and ultimately canceled the season altogether after they were unable to obtain funding from the Canadian government.

Per the ESPN report, the two leagues are “discussing options for collaboration as they plan their returns to the field” and talks between the two are in the “early stages.”

Shortly after the report, both leagues issued statements on the potential collaboration.

“Since we first acquired the XFL, we have focused on identifying partners who share our vision and values on and off the field,” XFL Chairwoman and Owner Dany Garcia said. “A vision filled with opportunity, innovation and the highest level of entertainment value for the benefit of our athletes, fans and communities. The CFL has expressed that similar sentiment and jointly we recognize a great opportunity to build exciting innovative football experiences that make the most of each league’s unique strengths. I look forward to our continued discussions and we will update the sports community as we have more to share.”

“We are honored and excited to be in discussions with the CFL,” XFL President and CEO Jeffrey Pollack said. “It’s clear through our early conversations that we share a passion for football, an expansive sense of possibility, and a deep desire to create more opportunity for players and fans across North America and around the world. Blending the CFL’s rich heritage with our fresh thinking, and the unique reach and experience of our ownership, could be transformative for the game. We look forward to learning more about what’s possible together with the CFL and where our shared passion takes us.”

“Canada has an exciting game and devoted fans, and our discussion with the XFL provides a tremendous opportunity to build on that strong foundation,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said. “We look forward to exploring how we might work with one of the most innovative sports brands in the world to grow the game, engage fans in new ways, and reach new audiences. We look forward to seeing what possibilities our discussions might uncover, and to sharing those with our fans as the process unfolds.”

As a result of the conversations, the XFL announced that the 2022 season is “…on hold pending the outcome of our conversations with the CFL.”

The 2021 CFL preseason is scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 23 with the BC Lions visiting the Calgary Stampeders. Regular-season CFL action kicks off on Thursday, June 10 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The 21-week CFL schedule concludes on Saturday, Oct. 30. The CFL Playoffs begin the following week, and the 108th Grey Cup is set for Sunday, Nov. 21 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

Comments (4)

I went to many Baltimore CFL games the two years in the mid 1990’s when the CFL was here, Baltimore was there best franchise. However I am not sure what this conversation is leading to? the CFL and XFL play together as a merged league? separate league with shared players?

I do want an athlete playing 8 games in the XFL in Feb, March and April then playing 18 games for the CFL from May through November.

The CFL has a different set of rules to emphasize the passing game and speed, The XFL, well it is really to early to tell.

IF the 2022 XFL schedule iis on hold what does that mean and when was it suppose to be released anyway?

I am confused.

I don’t have the answers unfortunately. Their statements were vague at best.

I would imagine the 2022 schedule would have been released this summer or early fall to build hype.

One thought is that a 2022 XFL season is financially unfeasible without a partnership. The XFL may look at becoming a “third tier” football league for North America, feeding some players to the CFL with the hopes of forming a future (ie. never) American CFL division.

Just as the AL and NL have/had slightly different rules (and most parks have different dimensions), something like that could work for the CFL should they ever go to the US again. We won’t have those cropped endzones like we had in the 90s.

The CFL union contract is always an issue. The rules that required Canadian teams to field a majority of Canadian citizens from the limited pool that exists but not the US teams certainly enabled the US teams to be strong quickly.