Legal woes for Alliance of American Football

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A week after finding a savior and a cash infusion that reportedly kept the new league afloat, the Alliance of American Football is facing more troubles.

Venture capitalist Robert Vanech is suing the AAF and founder Charlie Ebersol, claiming that the idea for the league was his, according to a report by the Action Network.

Vanech says he had a “handshake agreement” entitling him to 50 percent of the league, the report, by Darren Rovell, said.

Vanech’s suit alleges that he and Ebersol began working on ideas for the new league after the airing of ESPN’s “30 For 30” film “This is the XFL.”

The original idea was to revive the XFL, Vanech says. In meetings with potential investors, the new league was referred to as “XFL 2.0” and “Project Phoenix.”

According to the suit, Ebersol and Vanech exchanged text messages about their ideas, with Vanech at one point writing, “Love it. Each morning I try to write down (my) new ideas that will allow us to innovate, pioneer, and amaze. This canvas is so blank that it deserves a masterpiece.”

The league disputed the assertions made in the lawsuit.

“Mr. Vanech’s claim is without merit,” the AAF said in a statement. “There was never any agreement, oral or written, between Mr. Vanech and Mr. Ebersol relating to The Alliance. We remain focused solely on our historic, inaugural season when each weekend over 400 players get an opportunity to showcase their talents and fulfill their dreams of playing professional football.”

The lawsuit comes a week after The Athletic reported that the league would not have made payroll without a $250 million investment by Tom Dundon, majority owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. The AAF said player pay was not in jeopardy.

“We are a start-up, and start-ups usually raise money in pieces,” Ebersol told The Orlando Sentinel. “There’s a Series A piece, Series B, Series C, etc. After the success of the first week, we had a number of investors come to us and offer us all kinds of different investments. Tom Dundon showed up and said, ‘Do you want to continue to raise Series B, Series C and Series D or do you want to raise Series Infinity right now and be taken care of from now on?’ That was an offer I was not going to refuse.”

Dundon is now the league’s majority owner and chairman.

Saturday

San Diego Fleet at Memphis Express: The Express is 0-3 but its losses have come against teams who are a combined 8-1. The Fleet has won two straight but lost its only road game. EXPRESS

Orlando Apollos at Salt Lake Stallions: Through three weeks, home teams are 9-3 SU. While the Apollos appear to be the class of the league, they’re traveling 2,300 miles to face a Stallions team that won its first home game — over previously undefeated Arizona. STALLIONS

Sunday

San Antonio Commanders at Birmingham Iron: The Commanders have struggled on defense, giving up 68 points in the past two weeks. Birmingham moved to 3-0 with a 28-12 road win over Atlanta. IRON

Atlanta Legends at Arizona Hotshots: The Legends are 0-3, average less than 200 yards passing, 70 yards rushing and just 10 points per game. The Hotshots, who on Saturday suffered their first loss, return home where they put up 38 points in Week 1. ­HOTSHOTS

Last week: 2-2

Season: 2-2

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About the Author

Ched Whitney

Ched Whitney has been a journalist in Las Vegas since 1994. He worked for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 18 years, where he was the paper’s art director for 12. Since becoming a freelancer in 2012, his work has appeared at ESPN.com, AOL, The Seattle Times and UNLV Magazine, among others. ​

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