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XFL, St. Louis BattleHawks will not in return in 2021, reports say, as league lays off all employees

  •  Photo: Billy Hurst | For The Telegraph Photo: Billy Hurst | For The Telegraph

Photo: Billy Hurst | For The Telegraph

Image 1 of / 60

Image 1 of 60

Photo: Billy Hurst | For The Telegraph

The coronavirus pandemic may have claimed a pro sports victim, the rebooted XFL, which has suspended operations and laid off most of its employees.

XFL workers were told of the layoffs during an in-house conference call Friday. While a handful of executives remain employed, some reports said the league has no plans to return in 2021.

The St. Louis BattleHawks were one of the success stories of the league, leading the league in attendance at the former home of the St. Louis Rams, the Dome at America’s Center. The BattleHawks also were one of the leading draws on the XFL telecasts, which split time between ESPN, ABC, Fox and FX1.

The BattleHawks were 2-0 at home and had been selling tickets in the upper level of the dome for a game with the Los Angeles Wildcats. Team officials were anticipating a crowd of more than 50,000 for that game.

Jonathan Hayes was head coach and GM of the BattleHawks.

St. Louis was the only city in the eight-team league that does not also have an NFL franchise. The Rams left three seasons ago to return to Los Angeles after 20 years in the Gateway City.

According to reports, all jobs in the BattleHawks organization were terminated.

The BattleHawks were 3-2 and tied for first place in the East Division standings when the league pulled the plug because of the virus pandemic.

The league cancelled the remainder of its season last month after five games of a 10-game schedule as part of a nationwide shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, pledging to return next year.

The XFL playoffs were to begin this week under the original schedule, but XFL CEO Jeffrey Pollack changed course Friday, conducting a 10-minute conference call to inform employees of the news.

According to a prominent former XFL staffer who was on the call, Pollack stopped short of saying the league was going out of business, but the strong hint was clear.

“It’s done,” the staffer said. “It’s not coming back.”

There was no immediate comment from the league.

The XFL is owned by WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, who was making his second foray into professional football. His rowdy 2001 version of the XFL also folded after one year.

XFL staffers believed that the league would resume play in 2021. Players had previously been told they would be paid through the end of the regular season, which was scheduled to end this weekend.

After cancelling the remainder of its regular season last month because of the coronavirus pandemic, but promising to be back in 2021, the rebooted league backed by WWE has left its future in doubt.


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