Axios first reported the news Tuesday, describing the two spring football leagues as being in "advanced talks" to merge their operations. The outlet added that the merger would require regulatory approval and the leagues hope to finalize the deal ahead of the 2024 season.
A spokesperson for Fox Sports, which owns the USFL, declined comment. XFL spokesperson Jeff Altstadter told USA TODAY Sports in an email that "we will not comment on rumors and speculation."
The talks come just a few months after the first spring in which the two nascent leagues competed directly against one another for fans, sponsors and media interest. Their respective seasons overlapped for about two months.
For the XFL, the 2023 season marked a return to play following a period of significant tumult. After its brief run in the early 2000s, the XFL played part of one season in 2020 under the ownership of WWE founder Vince McMahon before the COVID-19 pandemic prompted it to file for bankruptcy. It was later purchased by a group including Dany Garcia and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who revived it in time for a return earlier this year.
The USFL, meanwhile, recently completed its second consecutive season. The new iteration of the league debuted in 2022.
There had been lingering questions about whether, or how, the two spring football leagues would coexist after a spring in which they fought for TV ratings and fan interest.
"I do think that there’s room for (both) leagues," XFL chairwoman Dany Garcia told USA TODAY Sports in March, prior to the start of her league's season. "I think one great thing about having two leagues in this slot is you’ve got to sharpen, you’ve got to give more, you’ve got to take better care of your athletes."
When asked if he thought both leagues would still be operating separately in 2025, USFL president Daryl Johnston said in April: "I think in the ultimate end game, the viewer and the rating determines that."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: XFL, USFL merger discussions in 'advanced talks'