XFL's Bankruptcy Filings Reveal Extent of Connection With Vince McMahon's WWE

The XFL's parent company filed for bankruptcy on Monday, three days after suspending operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S. last month, the XFL suspended the season indefinitely, following the example set by the NBA, NHL and MLB. On Friday, however, the league moved to halt all operations, dismissing most of its employees and announcing it had no plans to return next year.

As recently as three weeks ago, the league had pledged to return in 2021.

On Monday, Alpha Entertainment filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the league in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, listing with the XFL with assets and liabilities each in the range of $10 million to $50 million

"The XFL quickly captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people who love football," the XFL said in a statement on Monday.

"Unfortunately, as a new enterprise, we were not insulated from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

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"Accordingly, we have filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. 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."

According to the filings, there are between 1,000 to 5,000 creditors and the list of the 25 largest creditors illustrates the depth of the financial issues encountered by the league. The breakdown features the owners of stadium leases, such as MetLife Stadium owner New Meadowlands Stadium Company, which is owed $368,000, and the St. Louis Sports Commission, which is the XFL's biggest creditor and is owed $1.6 million.

Broadcasting services provider Bexel NEP is the second-largest creditor on the list and it is owed $1.2 million by the league.

Seven of the league's eight teams head coaches also feature among the league's 25 biggest creditors. Dallas Renegades' head coach Bob Stoops is owed just under $1.1 million, while his Tampa Bay Vipers colleague Marc Trestman is owed $777,777 and their St. Louis BattleHawks' counterpart Jonathan Hayes is yet to receive $633,333 in payments.

D.C. Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton is the only head coach not listed among the top 25 creditors.

Upon halting operations on Friday, the XFL announced it had paid its employees through April 12 and unveiled plans to refund all advance ticket sales. Filings show that Ticketmaster, the league's ticketing partner, is owed over $650,000.

Alpha Entertainment, the company the XFL was founded through, is owned by Vince McMahon, the chairman and chief executive of professional wrestling body WWE.

When he announced his intention to resurrect the XFL in January 2018—the league was first launched in 2001 but folded after its inaugural season—McMahon pledged back the investment with $500 million from his own pocket and repeatedly insisted WWE and the XFL were operated as completely separate entities.

However, WWE's share price tumbled by almost 30 percent in the two weeks before the XFL made its debut on February 8.

The bankruptcy filings show McMahon owned the entirety of Class A shares in the league and 76.5 percent of Class B shares, with the remainder owned by WWE.

According to data from Forbes magazine, McMahon is worth approximately $1.9 billion at the time of writing, a significant drop from an estimated value of $3.3 in October 2018.

ESPN and The Hollywood Reporter both reported McMahon is now actively looking for a buyer for the XFL.

XFL, Tampa Bay Vipers
The Tampa Bay Vipers line up against the LA Wildcats at Dignity Health Sports Park during an XFL game on March 8 in Carson, California. L.A. won 41-34. John McCoy/Getty
XFL's Bankruptcy Filings Reveal Extent of Connection With Vince McMahon's WWE | Sports