AAF halts inaugural season after only eight games

Nick Folk

AAF majority owner Tom Dundon - who also owns the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League - told USA Today last week that the AAF could end up folding if it could not gain the ability to sign young NFL players by next season. It is unclear if the start-up spring-season league will now fold.

While the AAF paid its former employees through Wednesday, they did not receive any severance pay and did not learn that the league would suspend operations until this week.

AAF representatives did not return multiple requests for comment on the situation.

The move comes just eight weeks into the regular season, with two games remaining before playoffs commence.

Weslye Saunders, a tight end for the Birmingham Iron, tweeted a photo of himself and his daughter, who "finally got to see her daddy play!"

The decision to suspend operations was taken by majority owner Tom Dundon - who had been funding the Alliance since February after pledging a $250m (€220.8m) investment - much to the disappointment of co-founder Bill Polian.

The league disputed that claim and said it was an error with the payroll disbursement company the league hired, according to ESPN. We launched a football league, a ground breaking sports technology and APP, and established production and broadcast arrangements to air our content on major networks. The AAF offered players three-year contracts for $70,000, $80,000 and $100,000 (U.S.), far more than virtually any CFL player earns during his first three years in the league.

Just last week, Dundon told USA TODAY Sports that the NFLPA would not allow the league to use practice squad players from NFL rosters. Players were told that they will not be receiving severance pay for the rest of the season and that their last game cheque will be the last money they receive from the league.

He said the league had plans to spend around $500 million to $750 million over the first five years to get it off the ground. If this was meant to be a negotiating tactic, it was a truly freaky one, given that neither Dundon nor the AAF enjoyed any leverage over the hegemonic National Football League. According to Florio, the league needed $20 million to get through the end of the season.

It had a TV deal with CBS, some slick imaging, a few new business ideas and a boundless amount of confidence that this could work.

The AAF was launched by Charlie Ebersol, the son of longtime network executive Dick Ebersol, a year ago and is now in the midst of its inaugural 10-week season. The AAF set viewership records in Week 1, but the hype ended there.

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