Bankrupt former football league owes Memphians money months after folding

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The former Alliance of American Football owes millions of dollars to companies across the nation, and a number of them are in the Memphis area.

The league seemed so promising. The local team, the Memphis Express, even got famed and controversial Johnny Manziel to play quarterback.

But the AAF folded eight weeks into its first season. Its parent company, Legendary Field Exhibitions, filed for bankruptcy in April 2019.

Ken Quick says the AAF owes his Bartlett Printing Company nearly $13,000.

"It's a shame. We thought it was a good opportunity at the time. We did an assortment of items," he said.

Quick's company handled thousands of Memphis Express game posters, programs, schedules and parking passes. The first invoice went out in January. But 30 days became 60, and soon, it was clear that there was a problem.

"We tried to work with them, and it just didn't work out," Quick said.

His company filed a claim in bankruptcy court like many others, but the league doesn't just owe money to businesses, it also owes money to people too.

For example, season ticket holders who couldn't go to Memphis's final home game, because the team didn't exit anymore, are owed money.

Donna Franklin says she's owed $200. "They were 50-yard-line season tickets. We were very excited about having the team."

Whit Winfrey says he and his wife are owed $400.

Franklin and Winfrey filed claims in bankruptcy court too, but the odds of them getting paid are bad. The same goes for EM Printing.

Steve Bilsky, a bankruptcy attorney in Memphis, says some of the businesses and individuals might get a fraction of what they're owed, but that would be the best case scenario. That's because Legendary Field Exhibitions filed for Chapter Seven Bankruptcy, meaning "they know they can't pay their bills."

We emailed and called Legendary Field Exhibitions attorney in Houston and asked about the probability of residents and businesses getting paid, but we never heard back.

In the end, people we talked with would like to get paid, but they're not counting on it.

"We're probably not gonna see it," one said.

"If we ever collect anything, and I don't know that we will, it will probably be pennies on the dollar,"

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