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Amid rumors that Platinum Equity will not go through with its planned investment of up to $100 million in the Arena Football League, we’ve picked up strong indications from multiple sources that the AFL could soon be ceasing operations.
Some team employees have been advised to find other work, we’re told. 
As one source with knowledge of the dynamics of the AFL explained it, the team owners are receiving little or no television revenue from the league’s partnership with ESPN.  Likewise, the team owners don’t see much of the money that comes from sponsorships with the likes of ADT, Discover Card, and others.
The owners also received no money, we’re told, from the EA Sports collaboration on an AFL video game, which already has been abandoned for 2009.
Another source tells us that the AFL union has agreed to reduce the salary cap by a whopping 25 percent in order to keep the operation afloat.
It’s unclear at this point how it will all end, but things currently aren’t looking good for the AFL.  If Platinum Equity pulls out, then the 21-year-old AFL might have bounced its last football off an oversized vertical tennis net.
The NFL has a strong presence in the AFL, with several NFL owners also owning AFL franchises.  For example, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones owns the Dallas Desperadoes, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank owns the Atlanta Force.
Also, Hall of Famer John Elway is part-owner of the Colorado Crush, along with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen.  Former Eagles quarterback and Monday Night Football analyst Ron Jaworski has a stake in the Philadelphia Soul, whose owners also include Jon Bon Jovi.
With the dissolution of NFL Europa in 2007, the AFL became the primary minor league operation for the NFL.  If the AFL disappears, the upstart UFL could benefit, both in the availability of coaches and front-office personnel and in the opportunity to become a genuine feeder system for the NFL.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill
22 Responses to “AFL IN A DEATH SPIRAL?”
  1. JERZE says: Dec 6, 2008 3:03 PM

    Id hate to see the AFL go out of business…its a great experience. I went to my first game 2 years ago, and havent missed one since (chicago rush season tickets). It was affordable and great value, the players were fan friendly, signing autographs after every game. It would be a real shame if they closed down. It also provided somewhere for out of work NFL players to get another shot, like Ahmad Carroll did with orlando last year.

  2. jmclarkent says: Dec 6, 2008 3:19 PM

    The UFL and AFL need to combine forces and become a legitimate NFL minor league.
    It would be awesome if they could eliminate the need to waste a roster spot on green rookies who won’t play immediately (especially if they can be “called up” and “sent back” as needed), as well as eliminate the need for a practice squad.

  3. east96st says: Dec 6, 2008 3:25 PM

    Damn. It was the only sporting event that had reasonably priced beer.

  4. Furkmyster says: Dec 6, 2008 3:27 PM

    Well, a death of the AFL will lead to more players coming over the border and playing in the CFL in Canada. Good news for a league that just awarded its 96th Grey Cup championship!

  5. princeton73 says: Dec 6, 2008 4:07 PM

    the article says” “the team owners are receiving little or no television revenue from the league’s partnership with ESPN. Likewise, the team owners don’t see much of the money that comes from sponsorships with the likes of ADT, Discover Card, and others.”
    well, pardon my ignorance, but who DOES see that money?

  6. 3amigosalute says: Dec 6, 2008 4:12 PM

    Kinda strange that it might go under at the absolute peak of its popularity. But I guess the money just isn’t there.

  7. FlyingElvis says: Dec 6, 2008 4:33 PM

    I know I’m not the only person who would trade Arena football for a more conventional football league.

  8. spanky07 says: Dec 6, 2008 4:34 PM

    nah nah nah nah….hey hey hey….goodbye… if the NFL will follow suit…maybe the UFL will go back to playing the game the way it’s meant to be played with players that treat playing like a privilege, not a right….

  9. Fade 2 Black says: Dec 6, 2008 4:38 PM

    The NFL benefits from feeder systems and it seems they would seek to control at least one for sake of quality control. The value assigned to such a flow of tried and tested players and coaches to fill out rosters must be immense.
    The AFL UFL merge sounds good. The NFL may not wish to rely on that north-of-the-border league over which they have little control.
    A bail-out and merger strategy might work.

  10. abillits says: Dec 6, 2008 5:03 PM

    It’s the Georgia Force that King Arthur owns, not Atlanta Force. Get your facts about big-time transcendent sports teams straight, Florio.

  11. Bob S. says: Dec 6, 2008 6:41 PM

    NFL should use the CFL as its minor league, but only be allowed to bring up players after CFL season ends which is roughly 6 weeks before NFL regular season ends. CFL probably would be glad to work with NFL. Canadian League has stability in all cities it currently has and is soon expanding to at least one other city in Canada. Most of the best players are Americans.

  12. Fade 2 Black says: Dec 6, 2008 8:06 PM

    That’s why CFL doesn’t work, Bob. How can the CFL say “let us be your minor league, but hand’s off during our entire season”.
    The overlap of the seasons just doesn’t fit, except for fringe players and emergencies. And it definitely doesn’t help the coaching ranks.
    They need a minor league that plays during the NFL off-season.

  13. ClevelandsOwn12 says: Dec 6, 2008 8:39 PM

    “It’s the Georgia Force that King Arthur owns, not Atlanta Force. Get your facts about big-time transcendent sports teams straight, Florio.”

  14. shukey11 says: Dec 6, 2008 8:45 PM

    KILL THE CFL…im canadian

  15. techstar25 says: Dec 6, 2008 9:07 PM

    It makes me wonder what will happen to all those AF2 teams, in their small markets. Check out the AF2’s website. They have a lot of teams that seem to be in good financial shape, as that league continues to expand. If you thought the AFL was affordable, wait until you see the AF2. In the AF2, they pay the players very little, and therefore franchises can flourish on what little ticket revenue they earn. I wouldn’t be surprised of the AF2 is spun off into it’s own independent entity if the AFL goes under.
    I’d be very disappointed if the AFL closed shop. In Orlando, the Predators are a bigger draw than the Magic. No, seriously.

  16. Bob S. says: Dec 6, 2008 10:03 PM

    Author: Fade 2 Black
    That’s why CFL doesn’t work, Bob. How can the CFL say “let us be your minor league, but hand’s off during our entire season”.

    because in effect that is what it is like right now. players in cfl cannot sign with anfl team until next year(jan. i believe) they could make it after the grey cup game instead? up to this year nfl was giving cfl interest free loan but i believe that was ended this year. cfl i am sure wuld be happy to make some arrangement with nfl. and nfl needs another league for 2 reasons – 1 – to show its not a monopoly and 2 – for players to develop or be replacements for the injuries each season. everyu sport has minor leagues but football right now. once a guy leaves college if he doesnt make nfl there is basically no reason to keep playing the sport(unless cfl) arena football isnt even real football.
    right now so many cfl players played either in nfl or was on a nfl teams preseason roster. and many former cfl players have then played in the nfl. some real good players- garcia, moon, vanderjagt when he was good, flutie, priest holmes, etc.

  17. Bob S. says: Dec 6, 2008 10:06 PM

    Author: shukey11
    KILL THE CFL…im canadian

    they drew 66,308 for the grey cup game last week

  18. radneck says: Dec 7, 2008 12:44 AM

    Well said spanky07 but I think those days are gone forever. Arena football is cool twist on football played on a hockey rink size field. Too bad to see it go. Hopefully the UFL can somehow be configured into a minor league for the NFL.

  19. cynicalv says: Dec 7, 2008 4:05 AM

    I’ve tried to watch the AFL a couple times in the Spring when I need to need some football and after 10 minutes I’m changing the channel. I just can’t do it. It’s boring. There’s no defense being played, few running plays, and not enough talent on the field. Oh, and the NFL alrady has a minor league system. It’s called college football.

  20. MIBucs1982 says: Dec 7, 2008 7:12 AM

    It seems odd that as many years as the AFL has been around (30 plus???) that they don’t have the kind of intelligent business people needed to make sure that when deals get made (like the one with ESPN) that they get a sizable amount of the revenue. Especially considering Arthur Blank and Jerry Jones are two of the team owners. Not gonna say your sources are wrong, Florio (I know, a first for me), but something just doesn’t seem to add up there. Generally, an organization as long standing as the AFL doesn’t make it past the 30 year mark without having people behind it making smart decisions.
    If those sources are accurate though, the AFL needs to file a lawsuit like we’ve seen new music artists do when they realize they were being taken advantage of by their producers/record labels. Get the contracts re-written so they can at least make enough money to operate.

  21. filbertkiwi71 says: Dec 7, 2008 7:26 AM

    The AFL has been around this long and it seems like it can’t get its act together. What makes anyone think that the UFL will be able to make a go of it as an upstart league?
    Unless the league can get a decent television contract from the start, I don’t think any upstart league will ever make a go of it.
    I also think it hurts any upstart league in any sport that there really is for the most part only ESPN as a venue for such a league. On the weekends most of the standard TV channels seem to have their schedules set with golf, Nascar, baseball, etc. etc.

  22. ziggy4cfl says: Dec 18, 2008 11:41 AM

    It ‘ s sad news for the AFL, and especially for it ‘ s players and it ‘ s fans. But it ‘ s good news for the creation of a new outdoor football league, as 400 players or so are suddenly available. I really doubt the UFL will make it. With a 20 M dollars salary cap. Come on. But 2 other leagues are to watch. The All American Football league, despite 2 postponed seasons, and some doubtful decisions, as a You must have a degree to play in our league and teams with no nicknames, and the upcoming Ultimate Football Organisation, an XFL emulation, with sexy cheerleaders, multicolored pigskins, rock n ‘ roll and disco half time shows, cheap beer and parking, and a video game that promises to outbeat Madden and the NFL, with an adult version, with half naked babes, and old time music, are both to be taken seriously. Proposing a spring calendar, and a salary cap in the range of the CFL, meaning between 3 to 4 M dollars, they both have the best chances to make it, as long they can get a decent TV deal.

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