SBD/July 6, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Kick Start: Discussions Of Starting A New Women's Soccer League Underway

Despite the failure of the WUSA and the WPS in the past decade, it appears it is "time to try again" to create a pro women's soccer league in the U.S., according to Amalie Benjamin of the BOSTON GLOBE. There was a “meeting in Chicago last week” that involved "former WPS owners, representatives from MLS, U.S. Soccer, and U.S. Youth Soccer, former players, former national team coach and WUSA commissioner Tony DiCicco, and representatives from the USL.” They discussed “logistics, finances, partnerships, a future,” as well as “managed expectations and modest hopes.” The options “have seemed twofold.” Either the women’s league “should be smaller, a league where players have other jobs and other ways of supporting themselves, or it should be attached to Major League Soccer.” But with MLS “not interested, it appears the first option is the way women’s soccer is headed.” The “likely result is a 12-16-team league built from franchises that already exist in semi-pro and pro-am leagues.” U.S. Soccer “seems likely to be a part, though the role is yet to be determined.” USSF President Sunil Gulati: “We’re absolutely willing to be actively involved in it in a way that makes sense for us, for the clubs and leagues that are involved, and the role that the federation has.” Former WPS Boston Breakers Managing Partner Michael Stoller said, “Both WUSA and WPS basically looked for a bunch of rich people to fund a start-up with a tremendous cost structure, not on the league level but on a team level, that wasn’t sustainable at that level. It was just too high a starting point.” Benjamin notes operating budgets in the new league "are expected to stay around $500,000 to $750,000, half of what some teams were losing per year in the WPS, with no salary cap.” Instead of the 5,000-8,000 fans WUSA expected, the "hope would be that the new league could draw maybe 2,000 per game.” Teams would play “in smaller venues with more manageable costs” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/6).
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