The XFL may be free from WWE mogul Vince McMahon, but it’s staying in the wrestling family.
A group that includes Hollywood actor and former WWE star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson swooped in with a multi-million dollar purchase of the bankrupt football league, hours before it was set to go to auction.
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The purchase price was $US15 million ($A21m), split evenly between Johnson and investment partner RedBird Capital.
“With my trail blazing partner @DanyGarciaCo & RedBird Capital, we have acquired the XFL,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.
“With gratitude & passion I’ve built a career with my own two hands and will apply these callouses to our @xfl2020 brand.
“Excited to create something special for the fans!”
Dany Garcia, Johnson’s ex-wife and business partner, is also a stakeholder in the business that was previously owned by WWE chairman and CEO, McMahon.
With my trail blazing partner @DanyGarciaCo & Red Bird Capital, we have acquired the XFL.
With gratitude & passion I’ve built a career with my own two hands and will apply these callouses to our @xfl2020 brand.
Excited to create something special for the fans! #XFL #fullcircle pic.twitter.com/LprJ6HjglD
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 3, 2020
— Dany Garcia (@DanyGarciaCo) August 3, 2020
RedBird Capital is a private equity firm owned by Gerry Cardinale, and has numerous sports investments.
The company recently bought French soccer team Toulouse, and is an investor in YES Network, the New York Yankees’ regional sports network.
XFL president Jeffrey Pollack was thrilled that a bona fide movie star bought his football league.
“This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league,” Pollack said, via Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Group.
XFL gets another chance
The XFL had gotten off to a promising start before the worldwide COVID-19 sports shutdown forced it to shutter.
It was reformed in 2018 using the same name as the infamous 2001 football league, but without the focus on wrestling talent.
Following an October 2019 draft, it began play in February 2020 with eight teams, premiering with strong ratings and maintaining between one and two million viewers per week.
The league made it through five games before it announced on March 12 that all remaining games would be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A month later, the XFL filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Now the XFL is getting a third chance. It’s still early, so we don’t know how Johnson and RedBird Capital will approach their new football league.
They may try to rebuild using the teams that had already been created (though all XFL employees were terminated in April), or they’ll completely redo the entire league.