‘Football Outsiders’ Contributors Say They’re Not Being Paid For Work; Parent Company Responds

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Contributors to the popular football analytics website, Football Outsiders, took to Twitter with claims that the site’s parent company had not paid them in months.

Football Outsiders calculates DVOA, which stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This advanced statistic is used to determine a team’s efficiency based on situational factors and their opponent.

Lots of other outlets use the site’s data. These include ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FanDuel, DraftKings, and The Athletic. Some NFL teams and sports bettors use this data as well.

However, the site isn’t only known for being the Wizard of Oz behind a highly regarded set of stats. Football Outsiders also churns out its own editorial content, and its members of that staff are publicly airing their grievances.

Football Outsiders contributor Bryan Knowles posted a tweet with a letter signed by himself and three other contributors alleging that the site’s parent company, Canada-based Champion Gaming, had not paid them since December of last year.

Contributors Laid Out Their Claims In A Letter

“Champion Gaming, the parent company for Football Outsiders, is refusing to pay the site’s contributors the money they have earned,” the letter reads. “Many of us have not been paid since December, with thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices piling up.”

The letter says that the contributors made repeated pleas to Champion Gaming management to rectify the situation. It claims that there was a contract in place outlining “clear rules and timing for payment.” Those articles account for many hours of work and remain published on the site despite the lack of payment.

For this reason, the letter — signed by Knowles and fellow contributors Cale Clinton, Tom Strachan, and Jackson Roberts — says the contributors will curtail their output for the site until Champion Gaming pays for work that has already been published and has “satisfied (the contributors’) expectations moving forwards.”

The letter also clearly indicated that the contributors’ issues were with Champion Gaming and not with the site’s founder Aaron Schatz, or the editorial staff.

Champion Gaming Cites Financial Hardships

When asked for comment on the claims, Champion Gaming provided OutKick with a statement saying that the company’s management is “working towards a resolution.”

“Champion Gaming has had a difficult year financially. When new senior management came in last summer, they inherited some significant debt and liabilities. In turn, senior management has forgone salaries since joining the Company and have been working diligently to manage the Company through these difficult times,” the statement reads.

“Management is working on an impending financing to catch up with all the outstanding funds owing to contributors and other consultants. To be clear: Champion is not refusing to pay anyone, management is working towards a resolution and the editorial management at FO is aware of the difficult situation.”

Contributors Say Communication Is A Problem

OutKick reached out to the four contributors who signed the initial letter. They claimed that a lack of communication on behalf of Champion Gaming had become the norm.

“It has been 24 hours since we went public, and we have yet to be contacted by anyone from Champion Gaming,” they told OutKick in a written statement. “It has been two weeks since we sent CEO Graham Simmonds and the rest of management a letter saying that we needed to come to some kind of agreement by the first of April.

The contributors said that their oldest invoices — some more than 90 days old — remain unpaid.

“In all that time, we have received one letter from Graham, which stated that ‘communication is important.'”

Despite the known realities of the company’s financial situation, the contributors say that Champion Gaming continued to commission their work without attempts to limit the scope of their editorial coverage as a cost-saving measure,

“Knowing their financial situation, they could have decided not to run XFL coverage this offseason, or reduce the number of breaking news posts, or asked if they could pay for playoff articles in installments,” they said. “At the very least, they could have allowed us to make an informed decision on whether or not to keep working while they sorted out their own financial issues.

“Instead, they have continued as business as usual without being able to pay for what they were ordering.”

Senior Analyst Says Situation Has Affected Football Outsiders’ Salaried Staff Members As Well

Football Outsiders senior analyst Mike Tanier — who was not part of the original letter — also provided a written statement on the matter.

Tanier alleged that Champion Gaming also missed payment dates for salaried employees on several occasions. He cited the same communications issues as the contributors cited. He also claimed the company continued to approve travel expenses, even if there wasn’t a clear-cut way to pay for them. This practice led to writers flooring the bill on their own.

“They have refused to answer basic budgeting questions, which has resulted in loss of staff,” Tanier said. “They have approved employee travel despite lacking the means to pay for it; writers have paid for travel out of pocket — DESPITE NOT GETTING PAID THEIR SALARY — as a result.”

Tanier has worked for Fansided, Pro Football Network, The New York Times, and Bleacher Report over the years. He said this situation is unlike any he has encountered during his career.

“In over 20 years in this industry, I have never experienced a situation like this one. Their actions appear willfully misleading, to employees, contractors and readers, and they have done irreparable damage to the reputations of Football Outsiders and Aaron Schatz, (its) founder.”

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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