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The Houston Sabercats attack, in a preseason runout against the Austin Blacks club. Photograph: Judy Teasdale Photography/via Houston Sabercats



From April, seven teams from Houston to Seattle will contest a new pro league. New York, Dallas and Toronto are among cities looking to play in year two.

The league earned attention this month when it announced a TV deal with CBS Sports. Less visibly, according to multiple sources close to the project, a New York team preparing for entry in season two counts UFC star Conor McGregor among potential investors.

In August, McGregor lost to former boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather in a Las Vegas megafight that earned him a minimum $30m. The New York team is evidently thinking big: John “JBL” Layfield, a former WWE wrestler now involved in rugby development in Bermuda, is already attached to the project. Representatives for McGregor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MLR has a done deal to herald: CBS said it will show “a 13-game package with 10 weeks of regular-season coverage … and two weeks of postseason, including the semifinals and the first MLR Championship Game”. A source said MLR will be shown in a primetime slot on Saturday nights although the exact channel and platform is yet to be confirmed.