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On February the 9th, the first game of the AAF was played, a football league that hopes to be a viable alternative to the NFL. Behind it, there are multimillion-dollar investments
In recent years, the National Football League (NFL) has found itself in the midst of a number of controversies. The most notorious was what happened since the 2016 preseason when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest two games against racial injustice and police brutality against African-Americans in the United States by sitting down and kneeling during the anthem of the American country.
According to various sources including ESPN and Sports Illustrated, Kaepernick's behavior contributed to the fact that he has not been hired by any team since he left the 49ers at the end of the 2016 season, which has been described by USA Today as an implied veto of the NFL for political reasons and not sports reasons. Kaepernick has received support from a number of players who, since 2016, have copied his mode of protest, which has angered both some fans and Donald Trump, who have rejected the "anti-patriotic" acts of the players.
Correlatively, since 2016 the television ratings of the NFL have been in decline, which, as reported by Forbes, has been interpreted as an expression of the rejection because of the protests of the players. This is just one of the controversies in which the NFL has found both inside and outside the stadiums, both for arguable arbitration decisions and for the behavior of players outside the field of play.
A blank sheet: the business of the AAF
Among the controversies of the NFL, on February the 9th has been played the first game of a new league of American football in the United States: the Alliance of American Football (AAF), an eight-team league to be played between February and April, taking advantage of the fact that the seasons of the NFL are played between September and February. In March 2018, the AAF was announced by its two co-founders: Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. Ebersol is a filmmaker and is the son of Dick Ebersol, the former president of NBC Sports and co-founder of the XFL, a football league that was active between 1999 and 2001. Polian, on the other hand, is an executive of the NFL, where he was president of the Indianapolis Colts between 1998 and 2011.
According to Variety, the AAF has received investments from Peter Thiel through its Founder's Fund, Peter Chernin through its Chernin Group, Slow Ventures, Adrian Fenty and Charles King through M Ventures, Keith Rabois, and Jared Allen - former player of the Minnesota Vikings.
Ad Age also reports that MGM Resorts International made an investment in the AAF to achieve a three-year agreement to be the league's official betting sponsor. In addition to the agreement with MGM Resorts International, the AAF has also reached television and broadcast agreements with CBS Sports, Turner Sports, and NFL Network. Although the AAF has not made public the investment figures, Eberson affirmed in March 2018 that "we are confident that we have the right equipment and the necessary long-term financial resources to guarantee that fans will experience professional American soccer. high quality for many seasons."
A new model for the sport
In addition to its investors, the AAF will be characterized by maintaining a model that makes its financiers describe it as a "league of a single entity", which means that, unlike the NFL, all equipment will be owned by the AAF and no franchises attached to the league. In this way, the AAF will have complete control over salaries.
According to Football Scoop, the technicians will have salaries between $ 75,000 and $ 500,000, depending on whether they are a principal technician, a coordinator or a position technician. Thus, given that each team will have between 11 and 13 technicians, the salaries of this type of personnel will represent an approximate total of US $ 2 million per team, that is $ 16 million for the entire league.
For its part, ESPN reports that players will have three-year contracts valued at $ 250,000 plus health insurance bonuses and education stipends for all players who last more than a year in the league. Bearing in mind that each team has 52 players, if everyone completes the three years of their contracts, the AAF would spend approximately US $ 104 million in salaries (without taking into account bonuses), which is less than the US $ 151 million that, according to Spotrac, the Baltimore Ravens spent on the salaries of their players in 2018, with the Ravens being the NFL team with the least amount of player salary expenses during 2018.
A problematic start
Despite the apparent good financial path taken by the AAF since its announcement, The Washington Post reported on February 19 that Tom Dudon majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL, made an investment of US $ 250 million to the AAF for only cover the expenses of the first game weekend of the league, which took place on the 9th and 10th of February. An anonymous source related to the AAF said that "without a new investor of at least nine figures, nobody would have known what would have happened." In exchange for its investment, the AAF will announce Dudon as the new president of the league in the coming days.
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Given the financial problems encountered by the AAF since its opening games, the league's future is uncertain. However, according to The Washington Post, the initial gains look promising: the ratings of the inaugural games on CBS were better than expected, to the point of surpassing those of an NBA game that was being broadcast on ABC at the same time; and although the attendance of some of the first matches was low, the San Antonio Commanders have averaged about 30,000 fans attending their first two games.
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Diego Bogotá
Translated from "Así fue el multimillonario negocio de la AAF, una alternativa a la NFL"