Is Vince McMahon plotting an XFL comeback?

The NFL’s recognition and scores have taken a giant hit over the previous few years. So is it time for a brand new soccer league to pop up and problem it? Dare I say, a return of the WWE’s previous XFL league? Keep in mind “He Hate Me?”

Sports activities followers and buyers are questioning if the XFL could also be making a comeback after WWE (WWE) disclosed in a Securities and Alternate Fee submitting Thursday that CEO Vince McMahon offered three.34 million shares of the corporate.

McMahon did so “to fund a separate entity from the Firm, Alpha Leisure LLC, which Mr. McMahon established to discover funding alternatives throughout the sports activities and leisure landscapes, together with skilled soccer.”

WWE did not point out within the submitting what value McMahon offered his share at, however primarily based on Thursday’s closing value of $31.87, a sale would have raised almost $106.5 million.

So will McMahon look to recreate the XFL, a league that lasted all of 1 12 months in 2001? A spokesman for WWE had no remark past what was within the SEC submitting.

However it could be very fascinating to see if McMahon thinks he could make one other go at it with a soccer league. The XFL was a three way partnership between the WWE (which was referred to as the World Wrestling Federation again then) and NBC.

The league had eight groups and performed through the late winter and spring after the NFL season ended. It was hyped as a extra “excessive” model of soccer.

There have been no honest catches. Further factors after touchdowns had been scrapped in favor of two-point run or cross makes an attempt. Gamers needed to run out of the top zone following a kickoff as a substitute of being allowed to take a knee.

Related: ‘Sunday Night Football’ takes a bit hit as NFL ratings still struggle

The XFL additionally let gamers put nicknames on their jerseys. Therefore, Rod Good, who later performed for the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers for components of 5 seasons within the NFL — turned He Hate Me.

There was a variety of hype surrounding the XFL when it launched, however it rapidly fizzled. There have been stories that WWE and NBC every misplaced $35 million because of this.

So it is fascinating that McMahon could also be contemplating one other run for gridiron glory.

At first blush, a brand new soccer league might capitalize on the sagging curiosity within the NFL — particularly if there have been extra new guidelines geared toward boosting scoring and making the sport sooner and extra enjoyable.

It is also value noting that McMahon’s spouse Linda — a former WWE CEO — is now administrator of the Small Enterprise Administration.

Would President Trump, who has criticized the NFL after gamers protested the nationwide anthem, seize on the chance to additional assault it by endorsing a brand new rival run by the husband of considered one of his Cupboard members? Maybe.

However do sports activities followers actually need one other professional soccer league?

For all of the speak about how the nationwide anthem controversy and a barrage of tweets by Trump could also be guilty for the NFL’s powerful stretch, the fact is rash of accidents to star gamers could also be hurting the league greater than a boycott by patriotic followers.

The NFL has an enormous drawback with concussions and different severe accidents. A number of former gamers have been identified with persistent traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a extreme, degenerative mind illness, after they retired. Some have dedicated suicide.

Related: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says players aren’t trying to be ‘disrespectful’

It is arduous to think about how one other soccer league might keep away from these issues. It is a sport the place giant males hit different giant males very arduous at excessive velocity. Would a brand new XFL be capable of make soccer each safer and extra thrilling? That appears uncertain.

So buyers will simply have to attend and see what McMahon has up his sleeve. Wall Road did not appear to love the inventory sale although. Shares fell eight% Friday. A downgrade of the inventory by an analyst at Citigroup did not assist both.

However shares of WWE are nonetheless up 60% this 12 months. McMahon stays the biggest shareholder of WWE as nicely. He owns almost 42% of the corporate’s whole shares and that funding provides him almost 83% of the voting energy on the firm.

And the corporate stated within the submitting that McMahon has no present plans to promote extra WWE inventory or step apart as chairman and CEO of WWE anytime quickly.

CNNMoney (New York) First printed December 22, 2017: 12:52 PM ET

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