Reports: AFL to call off '09 season, reorganize for 2010 return

Updated: December 15, 2008, 1:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Arena Football League will shut down for 2009 but plans to reorganize and return in 2010, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The New York Times have reported.

"I think it's a historic day for the league," the owner and chief executive of the Cleveland Gladiators, James L. Ferraro, told The Times in a telephone interview Sunday night. "I think this league will be much, much stronger, and it will be here for a long time because of what happened."

Citing a league source, The Plain Dealer said an official announcement would come Monday. The Times reported the announcement was conditional on approval from the players' association.

Officials held a conference call last week and announced that no consensus had been reached and that talks would continue in hopes of coming up with a better business model.

According to The Plain Dealer's source, the league's board of directors met by conference call again Sunday and voted to shut down because too many big-name owners or big-name cities said they would not return in 2009.

"We couldn't be taken seriously if we lost too many teams, especially in big markets," the source said, according to the newspaper. "That's what was going to happen. We needed to shut down and reorganize."

The AFL has endured a season of uncertainty. On Tuesday, the 16-team league delayed indefinitely the start of free agency, the release of its 2009 schedule and a dispersal draft to award players from the defunct New Orleans VooDoo.

No permanent replacement has been named for longtime commissioner David Baker, who abruptly resigned from the 22-year-old league in July two days before the ArenaBowl championship game.

ESPN has a minor, nonmanagement financial interest in the AFL.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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