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XFL cancels the remainder of its 2020 season due to coronavirus

Zack Guzman
Senior Writer
Dallas Renegades quarterback Philip Nelson (9) during an XFL football game against the St. Louis Battlehawks, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. St. Louis won 15-9. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

After postponing its 2020 relaunch season due to coronavirus concerns, the XFL announced Friday that it would be cancelling the remainder of games on its schedule for the same reason as more states move into lockdown.

Since flopping in 2001, the professional football league had made it through five weeks of play to hit its midpoint, ahead of playoffs and a championship to be held the same weekend of the NFL draft. But a league statement posted Friday made the end of its first season official.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the most recent local and state regulations have left the XFL no choice but to officially cancel the remainder of the 2020 season,” a statement to the league’s website said. “This decision has been made with the health and safety of the entire XFL family as our top priority.”

A player on the Seattle Dragons had tested positive for coronavirus, as well as a vendor who works at Century Link Field, where the team plays its games. The league made it clear that players would be paid in full for the 2020 season and that season ticket holders would be credited for future games in the 2021 season.

“The XFL is committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years,” read another update posted to the league’s website.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck interacts with fans while contributing to the beer cup snake during the second half of the XFL game between the DC Defenders and the St. Louis Battlehawks at Audi Field on March 8, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The move to cancel the remainder of its debut season leaves unanswered the question of how well the league did relative to founder and WWE CEO Vince McMahon’s expectations. He self-funded the league’s relaunch following its failure back in 2001 and had hoped things would go differently this time around.

After another promising start with television ratings surprisingly beating out NBA broadcasts in the league’s first week of play, ratings followed a similar downward pattern to what was seen in 2001. Ratings continued to fall, though not nearly as drastically as before, ahead of games getting postponed earlier this month. According to broadcast partners ESPN and Fox, ratings had delivered respectable numbers compared to alternative spring sports programming.

After attracting an impressive amount of television viewers in its week one slate of broadcasts, XFL viewership declined roughly 30% in week two.

Without crowning a champion, the Houston Roughnecks will get to boast the fact they ended the season with the best record overall, sitting at an undefeated record of 5-0.

According to what XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck told Yahoo Finance ahead of this season’s launch, investor and founder Vince McMahon is fully backing the league for the long haul.

“Vince has made it very clear to all of us at the league, that he's in this for the long haul and he's shared that same spirit with our broadcast partners and other commercial partners,” he said at the time.

Now, XFL fans will have to wait until after the NFL season wraps up to see those strange new XFL kickoffs once again in 2021.

Zack Guzman is the host of YFi PM as well as a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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