New Details Emerge Regarding the Proposed New League

According to an article by Charles Boehm of SoccerWire.com, U.S. Soccer has recently set out an email to members of the United States Women’s National Team regarding a possible new professional women’s league that will begin play in 2013.  The email mentions eight potential teams, including four former WPS squads — Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Western New York Flash, and New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC — plus franchises in Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and the Kansas City area. Regarding when the new proposed league will officially announced, no specific date has been given, although it is expected to be no later than the end of November or early December.

Additionally, Andy Crossley has posted an article at Fun While It Lasted with some specific details regarding the financial structure of the league and its teams

THE CANDIDATE TEAMS/CITIES

From the SoccerWire article:

The email explains the involvement of the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Western New York Flash and Sky Blue FC (N.J.), all former members of the defunct Women’s Pro Soccer league, as well as four clubs in Kansas City, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Washington, D.C.

And from Crossley’s article:

Although there are now enough applications to select as many as a dozen franchises, one source expects Gulati will only approve eight for the first season.

Based on the above, there could be more franchises for 2013, but that may be unlikely, especially if U.S. Soccer follows a conservative approach and only selects the best eight candidates at this time, and give other franchises an extra year to lay the groundwork for their teams before a 2014 launch.

Fig. 1: Map of the Known Candidate Teams

The current list of candidate cities features none below the 38th Parallel (which runs just below the Kansas City MSA, including no teams in Southern California (Los Angeles and San Diego markets) or Central California (San Francisco / San Jose).

Regarding the proposed franchise in Seattle, it is unclear whether that is the Seattle Sounders Women, or a new team, which would likely be led by Bill Predmore, the President of POP, a digital marketing agency which lists Major League Soccer as one of its clients (see this SeattlePI.com article).

The Washington, D.C. franchise may be a resurrected version of the Washington Freedom, as the team’s old Twitter account is now active again. However, given that the Freedom’s WPS franchise was sold to Dan Borislow, it is unclear whether Borislow still retains the trademark rights to the Freedom or not.

Kansas City’s franchise may be headed by the same owners as MLS’ Sporting Kansas City, which after a change in ownership in 2010, rebranded from the “Kansas City Wizards,” and as Jeff Kassouf notes, intends to be more than just a professional soccer club. Although, speculation regarding the “more” aspect of Sporting’s intentions centered mostly around an NBA franchise for Sprint Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, which is without a major tenant (e.g. NBA or NHL).

According to the Crossley article, Dan Borislow is not involved in the new league, so a resurrected MagicJack franchise in South Florida seems unlikely.

OTHER DETAILS

Financial Structure:Per Andy Crossley, the teams budgets will be in the neighborhood of $500,000 to $700,000, with U.S. Soccer “reportedly paying the salaries of USWNT players” apparently in full, rather than just partially, as was indicated in earlier statements by Sunil Gulati.

Season Length and Number of Games: This has yet to be specified. However, with an eight team league, that should allow for at least a 14 match season, if double round-robin, and perhaps 21 matches, if a triple round-robin.

USWNT Players – Will They Stay Stateside? At this point, according to Crossley, the answer for most of the current players is yes.

USL Involvement: It appears that the USL will not be involved at all in the management of the league, with, as noted earlier, U.S. Soccer taking the lead on that front. (On a related note, the USL’s teaser website for its possible new women’s pro league, wprosoccer.com has been taken down.  That domain now points to a GoDaddy domain parking page.)

What About the Canadians: At this time, it appears that there will not be any franchises in Canada, at least for 2013. It is unclear whether Canada Soccer will be subsidizing Canadian players in a similiar fashion to how U.S. Soccer is

WHY THE DELAYS IN ANNOUNCING THE NEW LEAGUE

According to Crossley, the recent delays are due to the vetting process for potential franchises taking longer than expected, which appears mainly due to U.S. Soccer requiring quite specific business plans, rather than more basic proposals.

SO, WHEN WILL AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT BE MADE?

Based on Boehm’s article, the answer could be anytime, although after Thanksgiving appears more likely, with the announcement’s timing probably be centered around the USWNT’s first match against Ireland, which is on November 28th in Portland and will be televised live by FOX Soccer.