XFL files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Feb 9, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; A view of an XFL football on the field before the game between the Dallas Renegades and the St. Louis Battlehawks at Globe Life Park. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - The XFL, a reboot of the 2001 league of the same name, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday a month after it had to cancel the remainder of its inaugural season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The brainchild of Vince McMahon, the XFL 2.0 was the second attempt by the World Wrestling Entertainment impresario to provide an NFL alternative to American football fans, the first folding in 2001 after one season.

“Unfortunately, as a new enterprise, we were not insulated from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis,” the XFL said in a statement. “Accordingly, we have filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.”

The eight-team league began play in February and cancelled the season after five weeks as the spread of the new coronavirus brought the global sporting calendar to a virtual halt.

According to a Delaware court filing made by XFL parent company Alpha Entertainment, the decision to scrap the rest of a season that was scheduled to conclude on April 26 cost the league “tens of millions of dollars in revenue.”

The announcement that the XFL came three days after media reports said the league was suspending operations and laying off most employees after failing to finish its first season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The original XFL lasted one season in 2001, but the rebooted league was created to rely less on professional wrestling-type elements and concentrate more on rules aimed at speeding up the game.

Backed by a television deal with FOX, ESPN and ABC, the XFL opened with solid ratings but they declined steadily each week until the coronavirus brought a premature end to the campaign.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar