June 25, 2024

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Owner of Arena Football League and Fisher aim to restore integrity and build new foundation

4 min read

The Arena Football League marked a new era Wednesday night as it introduced its interim commissioner while also opening up about issues that plagued the league’s historic return.

The AFL formally announced current Nashville Kats owner Jeff Fisher as its interim commissioner on Tuesday. Team owners unanimously ousted former commissioner Lee Hutton III in a vote held Monday night.

During an introductory interview on the AFL’s weekly podcast, G6 Sports Group’s Managing Member Chris Chetty, opened by apologizing to the league community.

”We seen what has transpired over the last few weeks and we were all taken back by it,” Chetty said. “Our league has unfortunately been misrepresented over the last 15 months.”

G6, which has owned the legal right to the league’s identity since March 2022, claim Hutton and other league officials never paid to use the marks like the iconic logo.

According to the United States Trademark Office’s website, G6 does own the rights to the logo and it also shows Hutton submitted a separate application to claim the trademark in November 2023.

Hutton is currently the owner of Arena Football Management, LLC which is licensed in Minnesota.

”Going into the summer of [2023] we were at a crossroads with some of the members that had a change of direction in leadership as far as where they envisioned the league was heading,” Chetty said. “Being asked to take a backseat and just sit back and let them take full control with the intent to purchase the marks from us was the agreement.”

Chetty said they made two attempts to get the league to sign the agreement and the delay made a huge impact on the business.

”[AFL] told us a lot of lies and a laundry list of excuses as to why we couldn’t complete this transaction,” Chetty said. “It had quite the ripple effect all the way up here in Canada. It impacted a lot of people in my organization on so many levels that it was just very distasteful.”

Chetty noted it was difficult to move forward behind the scenes. But things changed when he said Fisher made a call to the investment group a few weeks ago.

Fisher said he didn’t volunteer to be interim commissioner but was honored when approached with the opportunity.

“Indoor football is a new space for me, but one thing that is common to any entity with respect to football is competition, fairness and equity,” Fisher said. “At the end of the day for indoor football, when people leave the event you want them to leave with a smile on their face and come back. To get a league going in the right direction is not hard.”

Chetty noted it is building a new foundation around Fisher including a new front office.

”We’re up for the challenge because this is what we signed up for,” Chetty said. “We want to put out a great product on the field and a great family experience.”

Part of the realignment includes a shifting of teams and schedules. Oregon Blackbears and Louisiana Voodoo were forced to cease operations this week – joining the Iowa Rampage, Georgia Force, Philadelphia Soul and Minnesota Myth.

The Blackbears will still play its scheduled matchup against the Wolfpack on Saturday but will call it quits after.

Fisher acknowledged the affected teams and highlighted that many of them lacked ownership which caused them to shut down.

”The clubs just couldn’t compete and we weren’t aware of that until it was almost too late to save these franchises,” Fisher said. “There was a long period of time where we didn’t know there was a lack of ownership with respect to about three or four of these teams. We’re going to go through an exhaustive process and build out this league.”

With 10 teams currently in the mix, Fisher confirmed there will still be playoffs and an Arenabowl championship. He also noted they are in talks with providers to stream games but nothing is official yet.

The league will be using theafl.com moving forward for information, stats and schedules. Most of the games and teams have been updated on the site.

In the meantime, Fisher is focused on finishing the season on a positive note and regaining the trust of fans, players, coaches and owners.

”My message to fans is hang in there and we are going to be more than what you thought we were going to be prior to the season,” Fisher said. “I don’t need to do this but I want to do this.

“We’re going to tell the truth and we’re going to be a league of integrity. We’re going to do things right, show respect for the game, the fans and one another.”

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[…] The Blackbears shared on social media that it agreed in principle with the league to complete the rest of the 2024 season based on a new licensing agreement. The franchise was initially one of the two teams that were going to be forced to shut down following the league’s shifting of ownership and leadership. […]

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[…] significant turmoil leading up to this past week when former commissioner Lee Hutton III was ousted and owners unanimously appointed interim commissioner Jeff Fisher. The league announced its moving forward with 11 teams but […]

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