United Football League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2024 UFL season
ClassificationSpring football league
SportAmerican football
FoundedDecember 31, 2023
Inaugural season2024
Owner(s)National Spring Football League Enterprises Co, LLC[1] (50%)
CEORuss Brandon
PresidentRuss Brandon
No. of teams8
CountryUnited States
HeadquartersCenterfield Office Building
Arlington, Texas
TV partner(s)
Direct: XFL, USFL
Affiliated: IFL
Other: NFL
Official websitetheUFL.com

The United Football League (UFL) is a professional American football minor league scheduled to start play in March 2024. The league was created following the merger of the latest incarnations of the XFL and United States Football League (USFL).[3] It consists of eight teams, all of whom were members of the XFL or USFL prior to the UFL's creation, concentrated in the Midwest and Southern United States.[4]


Main articles: XFL (2020) and United States Football League (2022)


Main articles: 2020 XFL season, 2020 The Spring League Fall season, and 2021 The Spring League season

In 2017, Vince McMahon, who had previously launched the XFL in 2001 as a partnership with NBC Sports, registered a trademark for the United Football League name.[5] An unrelated United Football League, founded by Bill Hambrecht, had played four abbreviated seasons from 2009 to 2012. McMahon ultimately did not use the UFL trademark, as response to the ESPN Films 30 for 30 documentary "This Was the XFL" in 2017 showed that the XFL brand was still viable, and in February 2020, McMahon relaunched the XFL with a similar business structure (though, unlike the 2001 XFL, operated as a sole proprietorship of McMahon's separate from his professional wrestling corporation, WWE) and an emphasis on speed and innovation.[6] The XFL, which was largely successful with its attendance and television ratings, was forced to shut down halfway through its 2020 season in March due to stay-at-home orders imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and declared bankruptcy in April;[7][8] later that year, McMahon sold the league to a consortium led by businesswoman Dany Garcia, Garcia's ex-husband Dwayne Johnson (a former WWE wrestler under the name "The Rock"), and private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners.[9][10] The XFL chose not to play a 2021 season (most gathering restrictions would not be lifted until spring of that year) and cancelled the 2022 season after partnership discussions with the Canadian Football League collapsed without any agreement in fall 2021.[11]

While the XFL was on hiatus, Fox Sports—which had been one of the XFL's broadcast partners along with ESPN in 2020—entered into a partnership with Brian Woods, who had been operating The Spring League (TSL) as a non-paying, pay-to-play developmental showcase for professional players[12] under a single-campus bubble format[13] since 2017. The XFL had funded The Spring League's 2019 season to test rule changes and were holding discussions about a potential affiliation between the two leagues before the bankruptcy.[14] Fox aired the autumn 2020 and spring 2021 seasons of The Spring League.[15]


Main articles: 2022 USFL season, 2023 USFL season, and 2023 XFL season

Following the 2021 season, Woods and Fox announced they had acquired the trademarks of the original 1980s incarnation of the United States Football League and would be launching a reboot of the USFL in spring 2022.[16] The 2022 USFL season, though its eight teams nominally bore the names of eight former USFL franchises including their cities, continued to use the bubble format with all eight teams based in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 2022 season.[17] The playoffs were held in Canton, Ohio.[18] Woods eventually backed out of the USFL after the 2022 season.[19]

The XFL and USFL played separate, partially overlapping seasons in 2023, to roughly similar television viewership numbers.[20] The USFL expanded to four home cities, adding Memphis, Tennessee (backed by former Memphis Mad Dogs owner Fred Smith[21]) and Detroit, Michigan,[22] to Birmingham and Canton, with each city hosting two teams, while the XFL moved three of its eight teams to new cities and held all eight teams' practices at a hub in Arlington, Texas.[23]

For the 2023 season, the USFL average viewership in 2023 was down 16% from its debut season to 601,000 and 3% lower than the 2023 XFL season, despite having 28 over-the-air network games compared to eight for the XFL.[20] The championship game also saw a significant decline in viewership from 2022 as the game averaged 1.2 million viewers across NBC, Peacock, and NBC Sports digital platforms.[24] Johnston expressed disappointment and anger that the USFL was comparable to the XFL in ratings for the 2023 season, dismissing the XFL as "no competition" to the "far superior" USFL and questioning how "to be on par with our competition from a ratings standpoint in Year 2, I'm still trying to figure out: How did that happen? (...) they're not even close."[20] The USFL was already seeking additional investors prior to the start of the 2023 season and had hired Allen & Company to assist in the search; Fox lost an unspecified amount of money on the venture in 2023 due to the high startup expenses for a professional football league.[25]

At the same time, the XFL lost nearly $60 million during the season after spending approximately $140 million in expenses over the course of the 2023 season and earning $80 million in gross revenue, including roughly $20 million that came from its broadcast contract with ESPN.[26][27] Executives with the league and ESPN indicated that they considered the season a success.[28] Like the USFL, the XFL was also seeking additional investors with the assistance of PJT Partners.[29] After the season ended, the XFL made league wide cuts affecting up to 30 people, including two marketing executives, and shifted other employees to seasonal work.[30][31]



See also: 2024 UFL dispersal draft

In September 2023, Axios reported that the XFL was in advanced talks with the USFL to merge the two leagues prior to the start of their 2024 seasons.[32] On September 28, 2023, the XFL and USFL announced their intent to merge with details surrounding the merger to be announced at a later date.[33] The merger would also require regulatory approval.[34] In October 2023 the XFL filed a trademark application for the name "United Football League".[35] On November 30, 2023, Garcia announced via her Instagram page that the leagues had received regulatory approval for the merger and were finalizing plans for a "combined season" to begin March 30, 2024.[36]

The merger was formally announced on Fox NFL Sunday on December 31, 2023.[37] The eight surviving teams were announced the following day on College GameDay, along with the alignment; the XFL and USFL will survive as separate conferences.[38] President/CEO Russ Brandon would later say "that the league is looking at expansion 'shortly'".[39]

2024 season

Main article: 2024 UFL season

The 2024 UFL season is scheduled to begin on March 30, 2024, with a matchup between the 2023 XFL champion Arlington Renegades and the 2023 USFL champion Birmingham Stallions.[37]


See also: Timeline of the XFL and USFL

Four teams came from the XFL and three came from the USFL, while each league's Houston-based team was merged with its counterpart to create a new team. The XFL's Roughnecks take the Gamblers' place in the USFL while keeping the Roughnecks brand and Gamblers' player rights and coaching staff.[37][40]

Team Location Stadium Capacity First season Head coach
USFL Conference
Birmingham Stallions Birmingham, Alabama Protective Stadium 47,100 2022 Skip Holtz
Houston Roughnecks Houston, Texas Rice Stadium[39] 47,000 2022 Curtis Johnson
Memphis Showboats Memphis, Tennessee Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium 58,325 2023 John DeFilippo
Michigan Panthers Detroit, Michigan Ford Field 65,000 2022 Mike Nolan
XFL Conference
Arlington Renegades Arlington, Texas Choctaw Stadium 25,000 2020 Bob Stoops
DC Defenders Washington, D.C. Audi Field 20,000 2020 Reggie Barlow
San Antonio Brahmas San Antonio, Texas Alamodome 64,000 2023 Wade Phillips
St. Louis Battlehawks St. Louis, Missouri The Dome at America's Center 67,277 2020 Anthony Becht
United Football League (2024) is located in the United States
Locations of teams for the 2024 UFL season (USFL Conference in red, XFL Conference in blue)



In 2022, the XFL signed a collaboration agreement with the NFL to "experiment with proposed rules, test new equipment and develop prospective officials and coaches and explore new ways to address player safety".[41][42] The agreement will continue for the 2024 UFL season.[39]

In 2023 Dwayne Johnson said that "the XFL specifically designed its schedule to give its players the best chance of latching on with an NFL team in May",[43] while Gary Cardinal stated that "the minor league analogy is valid, that's an important part of this."[44] After the merger, UFL Executive VP of Football Operations Daryl Johnston refuted the notion of a "minor-league" when he said in an interview: "I don’t want to be considered a developmental league or a feeder league. We’re a professional, stand-alone football league", but he also acknowledged the importance of an NFL partnership: "the number of people we have at the top of our league office that have connections to the NFL, I’m hoping we’re able to accelerate that process and have meaningful conversations with the NFL about what our league can provide (...) What we’re trying to do is maximize the talent and quality of play in our league. One way we can do that is having access to guys who are in the NFL, on that fringe, on that cusp".[45]


In the United States, television rights are held by Fox Sports and ESPN, carrying over their USFL and XFL broadcasting rights, respectively.[46] Fox Sports' parent company Fox Corporation held ownership of the USFL, and retains partial control of the combined league. NBC Sports, which had also carried USFL games in 2022 and 2023, dropped out of its contract a year before its expiration, citing an increase in schedule conflicts.[47] ESPN's coverage is part of a five-year agreement signed with the XFL in 2023.[48]


Informational notes

  1. ^ Spanish audio/broadcast


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  2. ^ Perry, Mark (August 3, 2020). "More Details On The Rock Purchase Of The XFL, How Many Bidders". XFL News Hub. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
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