SBD/August 31, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

WPS Eyes Fourth Year Of Operation With Momentum From Women's World Cup

WPS confident it will have a minimum of six franchises next season
WPS at the moment “seems to have put off the underlying question: Can the league survive to reach its fourth year,” according to Beau Dure of ESPNW.com. For league and team execs, things “will be far from dormant over the next two critical months.” WPS, unlike the WUSA of the early 2000s, has “a chance to build on the exposure” of a FIFA Women’s World Cup. WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas said, "I look at this year as probably the strongest year overall for the league, in terms of the financials of the league, in terms of sponsorship revenue, in terms of media. What we've seen is that people have fallen in love with the women's game again, and we've tapped into that. It's on us to build on that." League officials said that TV ratings on Fox Soccer, "have surged along with sponsorship and expansion interest in the wake" of the World Cup. Atlanta Beat Owner and WPS BOD Chair T. Fitz Johnson said, "We'll have a minimum of six teams next year." The maximum “is likely eight," though Eileraas “declined to name specific expansion candidates.” Dure noted another issue that needs to be settled soon is “how much can teams pay in salary.” Johnson said, "Right now we're working with the union, and we will have a CBA in place prior to going into next season. That'll tighten up the numbers and hopefully get us a little more parity across the league" (ESPNW.com, 8/30). In Rochester, Jeff DiVeronica noted a salary cap, scheduling around the '12 London Games and the "possible return" of Brazil star Marta are among the "hot topics" as WPS owners and execs begin this offseason. WPS CFO Kristina Hentschel said, "The (fan) response (since) the World Cup was better than we could have anticipated" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 8/30).
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