The Soul will have to wait to defend its Arena Football League championship.

The league's board of directors voted Sunday night by conference call to suspend play for the 2009 season, the AFL said in a statement today.

"Every owner in the AFL is strongly committed to the League, the game, and, most importantly, the fans," said acting commissioner Ed Policy. "Owners, however, recognize that, especially in light of the current unprecedented economic climate, the AFL, as a business enterprise, needs to be restructured if it is to continue to provide its unique brand of this affordable, fan-friendly sport."

The New Orleans franchise already has folded, and longtime commissioner David Baker surprisingly resigned. The league postponed the start of free agency and the dispersal draft a number of times amid reports that it was shutting down.

The league said it will work on developing a long-term plan to revamp its structure to become more economically viable. Columbus Destroyers co-owner and vice chairman of the AFL Executive Committee Jim Renacci will spearhead the restructuring process.

This would have been the AFL's 23rd season.

Said Jon Bon Jovi, the Soul's co-owner: "We, the owners of the Arena Football League, realize we have the most fan-friendly, affordable and accessible sport anywhere. These are trying economic times. The revamping will ensure that the AFL continues to provide value to its fans and not only survives but thrives in the years to come."