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What the USFL’s Success Means for CFL & XFL

After years of tedious preparation, Fox Sports managed to launch the inaugural season of its US Football League. The eight-team league kicked off in mid-April, which culminated in a championship game between the Birmingham Stallions and the Philadelphia Stars in early July.

The Stallions took home the first title, while Fox lauded its first USFL season as a success. While the USFL still can’t sign international players given its lack of funds (and even includes a payment option for players that includes free tuition at a university over cash payouts), the season did see high rates of viewership. The championship match saw 1.83 million concurrent viewers tune in live. 

Additionally, the USFL has seen action from sportsbooks. For example, the latest BetMGM promo code can be applied for USFL games. Though lines aren’t available for the league’s 2023 season yet, it hints that the league, and its fans, are here to stay. So, what does the USFL’s first successful season mean for the CFL and XFL? Let’s take a closer look.

CFL: Chasing Bigger Paydays

The intersection of the USFL and CFL, for now, seems limited. As mentioned above, the USFL doesn’t have access to a certain type of visa that would allow it to sign international players. However, it seems handy workarounds were at play this year, which saw close to a dozen CFL prospects jump ship for the USFL.

But will they stay? The USFL has been dubbed a ‘bargain aisle for players’. In other words, players that can’t command a high salary in the NFL or CFL are more likely to accept a position playing in the USFL. Once again, the CFL has the upper hand when it comes to signing talented football stars, as its rookie rates ($65,000-80,000 per week) are far larger than the USFL’s salaries.

XFL: Another Challenging Restart

The XFL’s full restart under Red Bird Capital is slated for Spring 2023—and there’s the possibility that its higher pocketbooks could spell competition for the CFL. Players who remain on the fence about which league to join are more likely to opt for the XFL first. 

However, there’s one aspect that’s working in the CFL’s favor against both the XFL and the USLF: it’s an established league. Over the decades, the USFL and XFL have launched and folded multiple times. In other words, while the USFL may have had a charged recruiting period earlier this year, but the CFL has been around longer—and it’s weathered multiple new football league startups over the course of its duration.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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