Player Source: 98% Chance League Will Return in 2010
A player source has indicated that there is a “98%” chance that the Arena Football League will return to action in 2010. The source states that a deal was in the midst of being reached a couple of weeks ago between the league and the Players Union.
“It’s not much different than the agreement that the players wanted when they agreed to reduce salaries in order to play this season,” said the source. “But there were a number of things inside the front offices and the league that needed to be changed in order to survive in the future. It was a shame to have to not continue this season.”
Rumor has it that among the changes will be that the league will have a single priority owner, similar to AF2, so that all teams are under the same business umbrella. There will also be two additional teams along with the original 16 teams that were slated to play this year.
Among some of the other rumored changes would be that the players would have to pay a higher premium for their insurance and that there would no longer be any 401K match to player retirement contributions or additional retirement funds. Player salaries are said to be remaining about the same as where they were last season.
According to the source, the league will release a statement by the end of the month stating whether the league will continue play next season, provided the business model is deemed strong enough to continue. If they continue, the current players will be able to sign with their current teams only between April 1st and May 31st, as the team carries the first right to re-sign the player. Then starting June 1st, players that have not signed would be considered unrestricted free agents and would be able to sign with any other team.
As far as the game goes, there would still be a 20 man game roster, but practice rosters would be trimmed to help save money.
And for the AFL purist, it is also rumored that at least one player would need to play both sides of the ball, bringing back the “Ironman” mentality that existed in Arena Football since the league’s inception 22 years ago.
It is believed the “Ironman” helped bring an identity to the game during its existence until the league went to an unlimited player substitution rule two seasons ago.
Arena Football fans, it looks like our game is going to do something that not many other leagues can say they have done; survive a year off and make a comeback. Hopefully it is able to prove that the restructuring was successful and stay with us for many years to come.