The XFL is suspending operations and is laying off nearly all employees. XFL CEO Jeffrey Pollack broke the news to staff in a conference call on Friday morning. The league does not intend to return for the 2021 season. ESPN first reported the news.
Variety obtained audio of the call, in which Pollack says that “it’s been no secret how quickly and dramatically the pandemic has affected all of our lives, the lives of so many others, and and the operations of professional sports leagues in the United States and around the world.”
“The XFL as an entity has been hard hit and is affected more directly than most in the sport industry,” Pollack told staffers. “We had no alternative than to stop right in the middle of our first season, just as we were continuing to build our foundation and our future. As a result of the pandemic’s impact and given the uncertainty we are now living with and facing, the decision has been to immediately suspend day-to-day operations of the XFL in Stamford and each of our eight markets. What this means is that everyone’s employment by the XFL is terminated, effective today.”
Pollack then told employees that funds had been deposited into their bank accounts, “providing your earned, but unpaid salary through April 12, plus payment for accrued and unused vacation time.”
A “small skeleton” staff will be present in Stamford, Conn. to allow employees to collect personal belongings from the XFL office, though the coronavirus prevention measures in place mean that the logistics of that move have yet to be determined.
Pollack assured them that the layoffs “had nothing to do with your performance or what was achieved.” He ended by saying that it has “been my absolute pleasure and honor to know and work with all of you… I appreciate, love and respect you all.”
A number of XFL employees posted on Twitter to share that they had been let go from their positions.
“The XFL just laid me off,” tweeted Bailey Carlin, who worked for the XFL’s social media unit. “I really think I did some of the best work in social media this year, so this really hurts.”
After a solid ratings start, the XFL had been in a relatively steep decline over the course of its debut season. From averaging 3.1 million viewers in its first weekend, the newness was clearly starting to wear off by the time the league’s most recent games on the weekend of March 7, which averaged only a little over 1 million viewers across Fox, FS1 ABC, ESPN, came around.