The Birmingham Iron faced an uncertain future Tuesday, after the Alliance of American Football league abruptly announced that it was suspending operations.
A message posted on the Iron's Twitter account read: "From the bottom of our hearts - thank you."
City councilor William Parker expressed optimism that the team could return to the field at some point. "There are conversations around player personnel with the NFL and also playing with the AAF," said Parker, who added that the city wanted both sides to work out their differences.
AAF majority owner Tom Dundon, who also owns the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, invested $250 million into the league in February, but indicated that the league might be forced to close, unless it received assistance from the NFL Players’ Association. The league's co-founder, Bill Polian, said he was "extremely disappointed" with Dundon's decision. "The momentum generated by our players, coaches and football staff had us well positioned for future success. Regrettably, we will not have that opportunity."
The Iron (5-3) clinched a playoff berth Sunday with a 17-9 win over Atlanta.
Head coach Tim Lewis and general manager Joe Pendry issued the following statement:
"On behalf of all of us with the Birmingham Iron organization, we were shocked and incredibly disappointed to learn of the Boards' decision to suspend football operations.
Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian delivered a quality football product that fans nationally were watching on TV, online, and here in Birmingham on each and every game day.
While all startups encounter some challenges, we believed ours could be addressed in the offseason, after a successful completion to our first season.
We were able to bring together rivals in the talent-rich state of Alabama, with players coming together in black, steel grey and silver. The Birmingham Iron promised a brand of football that made Alabama proud. We cannot thank our players, coaches, staff, corporate partners, and especially our fans that supported us from the moment our team was announced in the Magic City. The Birmingham community came together and proved to be some of the best fans in The Alliance.
We hope to be able to share information from The Alliance about ticket refunds in the future.
Thank you for your support and for believing in us."
Photo: Birmingham Iron