There won’t be a third time for Vince McMahon and the XFL.
After his startup football league went belly-up for the second time in April, the owner and WWE CEO said in bankruptcy court filings he will not try to buy the XFL back.
McMahon responded to a claim filed by a committee of unsecured creditors following the April 13 filing for Chapter 11 — not long after he shut the league down over coronavirus concerns — that McMahon would use the legal process to repurchase the league on the cheap and avoid repaying its debts.
“Not only is that not good for my personal reputation, it’s also not true,” McMahon said in a deposition, footnoted in Tuesday’s filings. “And I’m … not trying to buy the XFL. I’m not going to be a bidder. And the other thing, too, is that . . . you’ve damaged the possibility of attracting some bidders because it looks like that, ‘Oh, okay, I see what Vince is going to do.’ … No one helped the bidding process by getting that out there.”
He did admit, however, that he had been making up his mind when he reserved the right to be a bidder amid the bankruptcy filing.
“I don’t know why that’s out there, making me out to be the bad guy, [that] I’m going to buy the XFL back for pennies on the dollar, basically,” he said. “That helped me move into the direction of, ‘I’m not going to be a bidder, not going to have anything to do with it.’ I do hope that someone will pay a lot of money for it, and I do hope that it will survive.”
McMahon reportedly put $200 million in the rebooted league, which failed for the first time in 2001, with 80% through his management company and 20% through the WWE, according to the Athletic. He currently embroiled in a lawsuit from the league’s ex-commissioner Oliver Luck alleging breach of contract and wrongful termination.
The eight-team XFL played half of its 10-week regular-season schedule before COVID-19 forced it to cancel the season on March 20. It then suspended operations and laid off most if its employees on April 10.
Potential owners are expected to submit letters of intent by June 12, with final bids due the following month with a possible 2021 season starting in the spring. Brokerage firm Houlihan Lokey is handling the sale, and believes, “there is a robust market for the Debtor’s assets, including a number of potentially interested private equity firms and other financial sponsors.”