Arena football can continue by restructuring finances

Published 1:43 am Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Arena Football League’s 2009 season is on — for now.

The AFL’s board of directors met via conference call Wednesday night but ‘‘despite rumors and reports to the contrary’’ did not suspend the upcoming season.

‘‘The Board will continue to meet regularly to examine any and all long-term structural improvement options for the AFL,’’ the league said in a statement.

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The meeting came amid a tumultuous week in which the league seemed poised to cancel the season.

The 16-team league repeatedly has delayed the start of free agency and the release of its 2009 schedule after an offseason of uncertainty. No replacement has been named for longtime commissioner David Baker, who abruptly resigned in July two days before the ArenaBowl championship game.

‘‘I have yet to hear anything from our ownership, but I am happy for the league and happy to possibly have the opportunity to defend our championship,’’ Philadelphia Soul coach Bret Munsey said Wednesday evening.

‘‘We all know there are some things that need to be corrected, and that’s what they’re working on. They’re working on the economic model, and it needs to be corrected. Maybe this makes the league stronger. We’re looking to be around for another 20 years.’’

The AFL’s woes come at a time when the world of sports, once thought to be largely recession-proof, has felt the economic chill. The NFL has said it would cut 150 jobs, while the NBA and NASCAR also have laid off dozens of workers. The NHL is in a hiring freeze while the Internet operation for Major League Baseball also has trimmed positions.

It’s still possible there could be big changes to the 22-year-old league.

Philadelphia Soul wide receiver Chris Jackson told the AP that the league’s players had agreed to take pay cuts and had been told Tuesday that the season likely would be canceled.

Jackson said he still wasn’t convinced the AFL would play in ’09.