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Will Birmingham play in the Universal Football League?


October 5, 1973
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  Louis S. Goldman   Tony Razzano
       
At a press conference in Dayton, Ohio, the Universal Football League announces its intention to begin play in 1974. Birmingham is among the cities listed as founding franchises.  Other cities named are New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Seattle, Tampa, Memphis, Anaheim, Mexico City (Mexico), and Toronto (Canada).

League organizers Tony Razzano and Louis S. Goldman say their league would field 10 teams, eight from the United States and one each in Mexico and Canada. Razzano and Goldman are both sports agents from Dayton, Ohio.

Games would be played with new rules, including several used by the Canadian Football League. "We will use rules that combine the best of U.S. and Canadian football, plus some wrinkles," Razzano said. Teams will get three chances to earn a first down, have 12 players on each side, will kick off from the 20 yard line, and field goals will be worth more points the longer the kick.

Not just the rules are different. The UFL will employ a different type of player. "We expect to man our clubs with faster, more mobile players both in the line and the backfield. We'll feature quarterbacks who can run as well as pass. More movement, more excitement, more scoring - that's what we're after," Razzano said.

Prospective franchise owners would be charged $3 million in cash for their franchises.

The UFL announcement comes just days after plans were unveiled for Gary Davidson's World Football League. Birmingham, as well as most of the other cities of the UFL, are sites planned for the WFL.

The WFL's announcement came as a surprise to Razzano. "We were forced into a premature announcement, about three or four weeks early, by the announcement of that other league. I've worked on this thing for about 10 months and I'm not gonna let it go down the drain."

Razzano and Goldman were also planning to use the name World Football League but had to change their league's name this week after Davidson's announcement.

November 15, 1973
Razzano was asked how two new professional football leagues could survive. "One of the two is going to have to drop by the wayside, and we don't intend for it to be us. Yes, we're alive and kicking. There is no question that we will have at least 10 teams on the field next year. Maybe 12, maybe 14. Money is not a problem."

League plans are now to begin in the summer of 1975, probably playing an April through June schedule. "We won't be competing with the NFL because of our summer schedule. We anticipate playing in some of the stadiums NFL teams are using," Razzano said.

Razzano also said the league would not have a player draft. Teams would be stocked on a territorial basis to "capitalize on their college fame."

January 15, 1974
Razzano, still holding on to his dream, announces the UFL would hold off until the spring of 1975 to begin play due to stiff competition from the WFL. "I've found that it's just too big a job to try to play in 1974. Now I'm shooting for 1975."

The WFL's fast start has hurt the UFL's efforts to organize. "The promotion of the World League has put a question mark about us in the minds of some potential franchise buyers. And some buyers have told me they're interested in trying for an expansion franchise for the NFL. So, I've been hurt to a degree, but I still feel strongly that my league will make it. Quite honestly, I've been quite unimpressed with all the promotion of the World League. I think in the long run it's going to be my league that starts hurting the World League. It would appear that the World football people are anticipating forcing a merger with the NFL. We're seeking to establish and maintain our own identity."

March 18, 1974
Razzano announces that his dream to create a new football league has died, leaving behind bills totaling $50,000. "I closed up shop. I was getting little or no cooperation from the people I was trying to approach. I was beating my head against the wall constantly. I have an excellent concept and it still is an excellent concept. It was one that could have surfaced, but you can't surface unless you have backing."

And in true entrepreneurial spirit, Razzano then called and asked if he could join Davidson and his World Football League effort. Davidson agreed, taking in Razzano as a consultant and advisor.

April 27, 1974
It is reported that Razzano is now working for the owner of the WFL's Jacksonville Sharks franchise as an assistant administrative director.


Epilogue
The World Football League played for almost two seasons before folding, and the Universal Football League was never able to advance past the planning stages.
 
 
 
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Last update: December 13, 2018