According to a source close to Pro Football Talk, the AAF’s football operations will be suspended in the next few hours. Per the source, “the league is not folding, yet. But it’s heading that way.”
Mike Florio stated in his report that:
The move comes in the aftermath of ominous comments from Tom Dundon, who became majority owner of the AAF several weeks ago. Dundon committed $250 million in funding to the league, but he had the ability to pull funding, and he obviously has.
Last night, a source told PFT that the AAF needed roughly $20 million to get to the end of its first season. Instead, the season will end with two weeks left in the regular season, and with a four-team postseason that never comes to fruition.
Heavy has currently reached out to two team representatives that declined to comment.
This is a massive turn of face for Dundon, who a little over a month ago said his initial investment should have bought the league 5 years of time to get on solid financial football. According to USA Today:
If the league was in trouble and Dundon merely was trying to keep it operational this year, he would not have invested as much as he did. In fact, using simple math, his $250 million is enough to meet roughly seven years of player payroll. AAF players make an average of $83,333 per year at a minimum. Multiply that by 416 players per year, and the league has about $35 million per year in minimum player payroll expenses. And if Dundon’s goal only was to fund the league for a year, that’s not a very smart investment because he’d be throwing away money.
League co-founder Charlie Ebersol told USA TODAY Sports before the season that “you’re going to lose hundreds of millions of dollars before you get to profitability” when launching a new pro football league, because of all the upfront expenses.
“It’s going to cost money to get it there, but it’s a better investment than most in terms of venture capital,” Dundon said.
Darren Rovell of Action Network is reporting that Dundon lost about $70 million on his initial investment.
The Athletic reported back in late February that the league was running short on cash, threatening its ability to meet payroll Friday, Feb. 15. It said Dundon’s commitment enabled the AAF to meet its obligations.
This initial reporting was contradicted by NFL Draft scout Benjamin Allbright, instead reporting those initial payment problems were glitches:
I can tell you the Athletic either didnt have inside AAF sourcing, or that sourcing lied.
They switched systems & had a glitch. The AAF had enough capital to pay out payroll for the next year & a half without the cash infusion.
The league saw 3 million views per game on its opening weekend in early February, reports CBS Sports. Those ratings fell to around 400-450 thousand by the end of the month, and have continued to fall lower.
Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollos were the team in the best position to win the league in its inaugural season. At 7-1, the Apollos were at least two games in front of the next closest competition.
Spurrier talked about the original goal of the league, and how the speculation about folding is indicative that the original vision has changed.
“The Alliance was started under the pretense of signing players who aren’t in the NFL and giving them a chance to play in our league,” Spurrier said to Saturday Down South. “And if they play well enough in our league, then maybe they’ll get the opportunity to play in the NFL. That was the original plan, but obviously, the plan has changed.”
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for a possible shut down announcement.