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Is the AAF Already on Life Support?


Could the Football Fans dream of a successful Spring Football league be over after just two weeks?

It seems like just yesterday the Sports World was abuzz over Week #1 of the Alliance of American Football after the TV ratings (3.25 million viewers) for the new league on a Saturday night. That number (depending on who you believe) tied the NBA with what could only be considered an astronomical surprise.

Overnight there were headlines world wide asking "Could the AAF become an overnight success?"....

Then came Week #2....

The games didn't change much. Orlando and Steve Spurrier won big. Atlanta got trounced and we aren't sure how many people actually paid attention or watched. Particularly since it was a weekend where the NBA Held its All-Star Game and NASCAR held its big event--the Daytona 500.

Mind you, both drew pretty big TV Numbers....

But alas, I buried the lead here...The real reason behind this column emerged just one day before I wrote it....

Word leaked out on Monday the AAF needed a transfusion. Of cash. A lot of cash.

Specifically, the league needed--and got a $250 million investment by Tom Dundon, owner of the Carolina Panthers.

The money was to meet payroll and other obligations according to a story by The Athletic on Monday....

Dundon's investment also earned him a new title according to the report--"Chariman".

So the question on the floor has now changed to this: Can the AAF survive?

It's a question there isn't a clear answer to. Unless someone gets access to the league's books, we really have no way of grasping the expenditures or revenues they are bringing in.

Just the implication they needed a cash infusion so soon should be worrisome to creator Charlie Ebersol and everyone else involved. There are a lot of big former NFL types involved with the project and it makes you wonder if or how much they all are getting paid.

The league itself does have a salary cap and no real heavy player costs. However operating expenses in the world we currently live aren't cheap either.

The idea of funding and operating a football team is a big expenditure. From training camps to practice facilities, stadiums and team employees, it's a big anyone.

I do however question some things: If CBS and Turner Sports are televising the league, what is their involvement? Is the AAF making a "Time Buy" on the Networks or are the networks paying to broadcast the games?

That certainly would be some cash flow.

Then there are the sponsors. A quick look around the Alliance website brings no mention of sponsors...or advertisers...of any kind. Having not watched much of the games (a few minutes this past weekend), it makes me wonder how deep their "Advertisers"/Sponsor list is.....

Without a solid list of sponsors or advertisers, the whole financial problem question makes much more sense. TV deals are great and IF...they are making money off the deals, that alone won't fund an 8-team league for very long.

Maybe I just missed it or am overlooking something---but if they don't have some big time sponsors, yeah, you probably won't see the league around for very long.

And oh, by the way, Vince McMahon, if you are listening/reading: This is going to bite you in the ass with your XFL too. There isn't enough interest or money for a 2nd Spring league. And you're already last out of the blocks...

Think about it....

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