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Walking Through The AAF’s Bankruptcy Declaration

Front Office Sports
April 24, 2019

Maryann Veytsman, CPA, ESQ, CFF

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With the Alliance of American Football filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, stakeholders in the short-lived league could be waiting a while to get paid.

The collapse of the Alliance of American Football (“AAF”) has led to the filing of multiple lawsuits against the AAF as well as the AAF filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas. There were early signs that the AAF was having financial difficulties when it needed cash in the middle of the season to meet its operational demands such as payroll.  

“When the AAF suspended its operations in early April, it left many, including players and vendors, wondering if and when they would get paid,” says Maryann Veytsman a director in the Valuation and Forensic Services practice at assurance, tax, and advisory firm Citrin Cooperman. “Collecting unpaid salary and/or payments will depend on how many assets the AAF has and what type of creditor each person or company is deemed to be per the Bankruptcy Code.”

There are two basic types of business bankruptcies: Chapter 7 (liquidation) or Chapter 11 (reorganization).

“Businesses such as the AAF typically file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation if the business has no viable future,” Veytsman continues. “If restructuring is not an option, likely because the business’ debts are so large and the business does not have substantial assets, then liquidation is necessary. This typically leads to the business being dissolved.”

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can take many months or even years to complete, a trustee is appointed by the bankruptcy court. The trustee takes possession of the business’ assets and distributes them among the creditors. After the assets are distributed, the trustee and employees are paid.

“If the AAF had a realistic chance to succeed, then it could have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” Veytsman believes. “In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a company formulates a plan of reorganization, which outlines how it will pay its creditors. The payments to creditors are typically made over a period of time and may even exceed ten-to-twenty years. The creditors have to vote on the plan, and the court will approve the plan if it is found to be fair and equitable.”

Per the Bankruptcy Code, a business’ assets are distributed in the following order:

  • Secured creditors are paid first because their money is guaranteed or “secured” by collateral or contract.

  • Unsecured creditors are paid second. Unsecured claims can be priority or non-priority claims.

    • Priority unsecured claims are administrative expenses related to the bankruptcy such as trustee fees, wages and salaries, contributions to an employment plan and taxes owed to the government.

    • Non-priority unsecured claims are all other unsecured claims that are not listed as a priority in the Bankruptcy Code and typically include bank lenders, suppliers and investors with unsecured claims.

  • General creditors are paid last. General creditors are typically made up of stockholders and shareholders and are paid if there is any money left after paying the previous two groups of creditors.

This article first appeared on Front Office Sports, where Citrin Cooperman is pleased to have a year-long foundational sponsorship.