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XFL snapped up for US$15m by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and RedBird

Football league president hails “Hollywood ending” to sale process.

4 August 2020 Sam Carp

Getty Images

  • Former WWE star teams up with Gerry Cardinale and ex-wife Dany Garcia
  • Sale requires bankruptcy court approval; expected to close 7th August
  • XFL filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in April just weeks into return season

An investment group including Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has acquired the XFL for approximately US$15 million.

The former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star has agreed a deal to purchase the spring football league, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, alongside US investment firm RedBird Capital Partners and business partner Dany Garcia, who is also his ex-wife. 

The group were selected as the winning bidder for all of the assets of XFL parent company Alpha Entertainment LLC just hours before a scheduled sale auction was due to begin.

The transaction still requires bankruptcy court approval at a hearing on 7th August. Should the closing conditions be satisfied, the sale is expected to close on or after 21st August.

Jeffrey Pollack, XFL president and chief operating officer, said: “This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league. Dwayne, Dany and Gerry are a dream team ownership group and the XFL is in the best possible hands going forward.”

Garcia and Johnson co-founded Seven Bucks Companies, a multi-platform entertainment company spanning investments, brand integrations, philanthropic endeavours, marketing, and film and television projects.

“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” Johnson said. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”

RedBird, meanwhile, is headed up by Gerry Cardinale, who has been particularly active in recent weeks, acquiring French soccer club Toulouse FC and spearheading the launch of RedBall Acquisition Corp, a sports-focused special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

“It is a privilege to partner with Dany and Dwayne on the acquisition of the XFL,” added Cardinale, who is the founder and managing partner of RedBird. “Their track record in building dynamic businesses speaks for itself, and their vision and passion for developing the XFL as a world class sports and entertainment property will enable a new future for this organisation.” 

Alpha Entertainment filed for bankruptcy just a handful of games into the 2020 season of the eight-team XFL, which was in its second iteration after initially failing to take off in 2001. In its bankruptcy filing, Alpha Entertainment said the XFL had between US$10 million and US$50 million in both assets and liabilities.

The XFL had enjoyed some commercial success this year, securing broadcast coverage on US networks ABC, ESPN and Fox and delivering steady ratings in its opening weeks. However, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the season, prompting the league to file for bankruptcy.

The XFL is the brainchild of WWE mogul Vince McMahon, who announced the league’s reincarnation in 2018. McMahon had been linked with bidding on the XFL himself early in the bankruptcy process but in the end did not submit an offer. 

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