XFL, CFL Agree to Not Pursue Working Partnership After 'Positive' Talks

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2021

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 11: A CFL logo on an official Canadian CFL league ball during warm-ups before the Saskatchewan Roughriders CFL game against the Toronto Argonauts on July 11, 2013 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

A potential partnership between the CFL and the XFL appears to be dead, at least for the moment. 

"Our talks with the XFL, exploring the potential for collaboration and innovation, have been positive and constructive," the CFL announced in a statement Wednesday. "While we remain open to finding new ways to work together in the future, we and our XFL counterparts have jointly decided to not pursue any formal arrangements at this time."

The two leagues released a joint statement in March announcing they had "agreed to work together to identify opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football."

And Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reported in April that the CFL and XFL were exploring the possibility of interleague games, an interleague championship and a shared All-Star Game, with a future merger the "long-term objective."

The leagues would play their own schedule, with the possibility of interspersing some interleague games throughout their respective seasons before the two champions of each league would meet for an interleague championship game. 

But those ambitions appear to now be on the backburner. 

The XFL's future is now in question. The league has folded twice, first in 2001 after just one season and again in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, just five games into its reprisal. 

"It's done," a prominent XFL staffer told ESPN's Kevin Seifert and Field Yates at the time. "It's not coming back."

But an investment group headlined by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson agreed to buy the league in August, setting up yet another potential revival. 

The CFL also canceled its 2020 season amid the pandemic, though it is set to return on Aug. 5.

As for the XFL's future, it released a statement on Wednesday: "While our discussions with the CFL did not ultimately lead to a collaboration, the effort reinforced our belief and commitment to developing the XFL for international spring football.  We look forward to seeing everyone for kickoff in spring of 2023."