Luck: AAF "Lurched Too Quickly" Into Business Side Of Things

XFL CEO Oliver Luck explained why the AAF failed – and why the XFL won't suffer the same fate

The DA Show
April 16, 2019 - 1:13 pm

The AAF crashed and burned in its inaugural season, but the XFL doesn’t plan on suffering the same fate. 

Why? Two things: time and money.

“Vince McMahon is the force behind the XFL, and Vince has made a very serious capital commitment,” XFL CEO Oliver Luck said in studio on The DA Show. “You need money in any start-up – particularly in sports, particularly in football, which is so logistically complex and, at the end of the day, relatively expensive to launch. Vince is committed for certainly more than one year, and he’s got budgets that have been put together for multiple years of XFL football. That money has given us the time to plan. I think those are two things that are indispensable to any sort of a start-up, and I at the end of the day the AAF kind of lurched a little bit too quickly into the business side of things. You need both the football and the business side to work.”

Indeed, it’s possible that the AAF was trying to beat the XFL to the punch but may have launched too early.

“I’m not sure I can say why they launched when they did, but I think they did launch too early and didn’t have the time to prepare the business side,” Luck said. “You’ve got to get broadcast partnerships, sponsors, you’ve got to get solid ticketing folks – you got to hire a bunch of people. It’s a big enterprise. So I’m not sure why they launched when they did, but I think they didn’t give themselves enough time to get the business side set up.”

The AAF may have also made a mistake in ceding control to Tom Dundon, who had the power to pull the plug at any time.

“I’m not sure I know the specifies about Dundon’s obligations and the rights that he held when he came in and pledged his financial commitment,” Luck said. “But clearly, I think the funding wasn’t sorted out. We can just say that. And secondly, they didn’t have enough time. They just didn’t have enough time to establish the franchises in the local markets to sell tickets, to get local sponsorships. I think it was time and money. Those two things are indispensable for success.” 

Conspiracy theorists, however, wonder if McMahon made a deal with Dundon to end the AAF, which would eliminate competition for the XFL.

“I highly doubt that,” Luck said. “I can’t speak for Vince of course, but I’d be surprised if there was any sort of backdoor relationship that the two have. Dundon is a successful businessperson. I really can’t confirm or deny there was any contact between those two gentlemen.”