FCFL adds Montana as an investor, adviser
Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.
Football legend Joe Montana is investing in a new startup football league, but not one of the more traditional spring offerings — the XFL and the Alliance of American Football — that have attracted great attention in recent months.
Instead, he is investing his money — and his time, as chief strategic adviser — into the Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL), which plans to launch Memorial Day 2019. The league is set up to allow fans to control most aspects of the eight teams, from drafting players to calling plays. The actual game is designed to last no more than 90 minutes.
“There is room for something new and different, and I haven’t seen anything like this before,” Montana said. “As much as I love the NFL, … it’s hard to get people to sit still. Unless it is … two really good teams, it is hard to sit and watch for three, three and a half hours all the time.”
Sohrob Farudi, FCFL co-founder and CEO, said that what distinguishes his league from the AAF (also set to launch in 2019) and the XFL (slated for 2020), is that the FCFL is akin to a live version of the popular “Madden” video game series.
“It’s an incredibly tough business to make work in the traditional sense. Obviously a lot of spring leagues have come and gone,” Farudi said. “We don’t even really consider these guys real competition for the simple fact we think we are in a different sport altogether; we are creating a real-life video game.”
The FCFL is also hiring Andy Dolich as chief operating officer. Dolich, who has had top executive roles with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland A’s, called FCFL a disrupter that gives “fans the ultimate driving wheel.”
The FCFL was born out of the Indoor Football League’s Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, who in 2017 ranked third in offense with fans calling the plays through a smartphone app (the Eagles are folded into the new FCFL).
The FCFL’s planned innovations, including a running clock, are designed toward luring attention-challenged millennials.
“Basically, this is a combination of esports, fantasy and real football,” said Ken Rosen, vice president of original content at IMG, the FCFL’s production company.
The eight teams will play a three-month season at a 50,000-square-foot production studio in Las Vegas with a full-sized football field. At most 1,500 fans can attend, free of charge. Most games will be streamed on Twitch as part of a two-year deal, with one potentially on a linear network. The FCFL’s sponsorship and TV business is handled by CAA Sports.
Fans get crypto tokens for participating, and their voting power increases based on their engagements. Sohrob foresees a fan with enough earned tokens calling a play (rather than having a vote).
Montana’s role is part football adviser and part cheerleader. The Hall of Fame quarterback, who has technolgy investment funds, will tweet during games and help recruit celebrity captains for each club. He was approached by other leagues about investing but said of the FCFL, “This game seems to be right for me.”