August 9, 2012
Another Women’s Pro League on the horizon
CHICAGO - After the failure of two women’s professional soccer leagues, another group apparently is ready to take the plunge, with four teams announcing the formation of a new professional women’s soccer league that will start play in the spring of 2013.
Women’s Professional Soccer ceased operation earlier this year after sustaining three years of heavy losses and a lawsuit with one of its former teams. The Women’s United Soccer Association, which was born out of the success of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, also folded after only three seasons.
Among the teams in the new league are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, a newly formed team in Seattle, and New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC, three out of four of which were members of the prior Women’s Professional Soccer league. Additionally, four other teams are finalizing their participation in the league including another team that will be located on the West Coast.
“All these teams are committed to playing with and against each other starting in 2013 and to working out the final details to allow a sustainable professional league for women’s soccer in the U.S.,” said Michael Stoller, Managing Partner of the Boston Breakers. “We want to emphasize this is not a competitor to any of the existing leagues, but rather this is a significant step up in the competitive level and professional standards and we expect to establish a natural relationship to allow teams to enter this new league and perhaps to fall back (self-relegate) to their prior league if they need a break from the higher spending and competitive requirements.”
The league has been working to structure the minimum standards, season length, player requirements and conferences. The league says that several more teams will join the league in the coming month or two as discussions continue with several other ownership groups.
The founders of the new league have been working with United Soccer Leagues and Women's Premier Soccer League to attempt to solidify the relationship and roles of the existing women’s leagues with the new league and participation for all teams that elect to meet the minimum standards. After the WPS folded, the WPSL hastily formed an Elite Legaue that was comprised of eight teams, including three former WPS clubs.
WPSL has participated in the planning for the new league, “We have supported women’s soccer for decades and are very proud of our creation of the WPSL Elite League this year and the role we have been able to play in bringing this new league together for 2013. We are committed to easy movement for teams between WPSL and this new league and we will also provide a place for reserve teams to play,” said Jerry Zanelli, founder and President of WPSL. “Many details remain to be worked out but we will support the new league in its growth and are happy to see an unambiguous future for women’s professional soccer in the United States.”
According to Arnim Whisler, owner of the Chicago Red Stars, “This is an inclusive not an exclusive effort. If teams want to join and can meet the minimum standards then we welcome them. This league is for the players that want to play and be on the WNT radar, the fans that continue to support us despite our false starts in the past, and the teams that are committed to elite women’s soccer. We have been very happy with the WPSL Elite season that we just completed and cannot thank Jerry enough for his providing so many teams the place to play this year on such short notice and we see this as a natural extension of that model to a more permanent league and infrastructure.”
League organizers say that in the near future, there will be more detailed discussions with U.S. Soccer on the proper sanctioning process.