New Women’s Professional League – Third Time Lucky
New Women’s Professional League – Third Time Lucky avatar

After months of speculation US Soccer President Sunil Gulati today announced a new, U.S. Soccer led, women’s professional soccer league. Six months after the official shuttering of WPS, and almost a year after the league suspended operations, Gulati introduced the eight team league in a conference call with the national soccer media. Also in attendance were leaders of the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federation of Mexican Football, along with a representative of the new league’s team owners.

Alex Morgan playing for Western New York in the WPS (ISI Photos)

Despite the failures of the WUSA, which played from 2000 – 2003, and WPS, which lasted from 2009 until 2012, the parties involved believe that this third time will be the charm, in large part because of what they see as an improved business model.

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati explained that his organization would run the as yet unnamed league’s front office, a significant savings for the team owners. In another innovative move the federations of the United States, Canada and Mexico, would directly finance the salaries of a number of their own national team players, also lessening the risk factor for the ownership groups.

The Canadian Soccer Federation would cover the salary of Christine Sinclair who was a standout in the WPS, and is also in the running for the FIFA Player of The Year. (ISI Photos/J. Adam Fenster)

U.S. Soccer would take on the salaries of up to 24 national team players, Canada would finance up to 16, and Mexico would supply a minimum of 12 players to the league. With as many as seven players per team coming from the three Concacaf national teams, Gulati believes that the new league will be, “immediately one of the top leagues in the world.” The business model was described as being, “less hype, better performance,” with the hype hopefully to follow.

The WPS rejuvenated Lori Lindsay’s international career for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Robyn McNeil)

Gulati said that, “not everything is finalized,” in fact the U.S.Soccer President, said, “that things are happening at a breakneck pace.” No team owners were named at today’s conference call, although Gulati indicated that one team will be owned by an MLS ownership group, and that some former WPS groups will be involved.

With eight teams, the league would avoid the need for a waiver from FIFA to operate as a tier one professional league, something that WPS required throughout its existence. The locations of the teams are to be Boston, New Jersey, upstate New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Kansas City, Portland, and Seattle.  Gulati said that these were the best eight teams to start the league, and that cities such as Los Angeles, that are not in the first eight , could be considered in the future.

Christen Press has had an outstanding season in Sweden and may be enticed back to the States with the new league starting. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Gulati was not prepared to announce any commitments from national team players, although he reported, “very good signals,” adding that, “they want to see what the league looks like.”

The league is expected to be up and running by March or April, and will run through September or October. Gulati stressed the importance of a women’s professional league, saying, “the best way, long term, to build a (national) team is to have a league.”

Marta was one of the stars of the WPS, but at a very high cost. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

Many more details are expected to emerge in the coming weeks and we will try to keep you up to date on developments regarding team ownership, the salary cap, player commitments, and maybe even the name of the league.

 

 

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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9 Responses to New Women’s Professional League – Third Time Lucky
New Women’s Professional League – Third Time Lucky avatar

  1. BWDFlorida says:

    it is very exciting to see Woman’s Soccer continue on a National Level. It is sad to see that All 8 teams are in the Northern part of the USA (ok, Kansas City is kind of central). I hope they consider there are thousands and thousands of young players from the southern part of the USA (if you were to draw a line straight from West to East) that LOVED watching the games live too. I hope ALL the games will be publicized on the ESPN or FOX Soccer channel for those of us in the southern part of the country. AND consider a team in the south if possible.

  2. hiveredtech says:

    Glad to see this happening for womens soccer!

    My only wish is that there would be a team in the southeast…particularly Atlanta at the incredible venue the Atlanta Beat played in.

    We took our girls club team there from Florida in the last summer to see the Beat play the Flash and had a fantastic time. They did a great job with the fans.

  3. Steven Dufresne says:

    I agree with the previous comments about team locations. We are in Dallas and have supported a men’s professional team (FC Dallas) for several years with sell-out crowds nearly every game. When the US Women’s team played a friendly with Australia last year, they sold out the stadium.Plus, some of the great young soccer talent in the country are playing in the mutliple Texas/Dallas youth programs. Kind of a head scratcher….

  4. Emma Turek says:

    I hope they build the 8 teams from all parts of the country. What do we Californians care about soccer players in Kansas City? We of course want to build our own league. We want California to win the National title… Get it? This will create more performance AND hype!

  5. dreamingaboutsoccer says:

    Please eventually consider a team in Florida!!! we love soccer here as much or more as people in the north! thanks! super happy about this new league!:)

  6. WPS fan says:

    As much as I like to see nationwide availability of a league, with the continent being so large/wide, I would wonder whether it would be better to start off with teams on one half of the country, and expand from there as the league strengthens. Travel costs for a team to have to play coast-to-coast have to be one of their largest expenses.
    Looking at MLS – I think they’ve said that a “balanced table” is unfeasible because the country is so large, so they play more regional games. The NHL hockey league I’m sure, does it for similar reasons (it’s also for the local town rivalries, too). And the next tier down in soccer for women, don’t they divide up the teams by regions, too?
    If they are getting CSA backing, maybe there are some Canadian border teams they can consider too. Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal in the east, Vancouver in the west?
    With women’s sport, which has always had troubles garnering audience/sponsorship (and therefore $$$ to support the league), minimizing some of the costs – like travel costs – might be something to consider where the franchises are placed. Unless you can do an eastern 4 and a western 4, and adjust the schedule accordingly.
    I love watching women’s soccer – I hope there will be longer lasting success this time around.
    There’s a lot of quality in the USWNT and Cndn WNT squads.

  7. Ian says:

    I am glad, for me and for my daughter, to see Women’s professional soccer coming back, but I’m also disappointed to see nothing in the south, or in particular, the southwest. If travel is the big cost, it seems like it wouldn’t be that tough to add a few teams and divide the league up regionally with four “quadrants” getting a “pennant” and going on to a championship. There’s still be some “cross quadrant” play, but the travel costs would be restricted. As others have said with Canada and Mexico contributing, I would think we could see two teams from each country. Then add four across the southern US (sounds like Florida or Atlanta, Texas, and SoCal would be ripe, at least–I’m hoping for the San Diego Sea Lions, personally), and now there’s 16 teams, with four in each quadrant, and always three US and one Canadian or Mexican team in each. I’m sure I’m getting ahead of myself to hope for a league that big, but why not? The fan base is going to be local, and right now does a Southern Californian and his daughter go to Portland Oregon or Kansas City Missouri game? (Hint: neither).

  8. DES says:

    How will they select the players for the teams? Draft? Try out camps?

    • Peter Nolan says:

      Hi Des,
      So far nothing has been set in stone. But from what Sunil Gulati and Merritt Paulson, the Portland Timbers owner, who is to be the owner of the Portland women’s team, have said it will be a combination of ideas. The players will have a say, the owners will put in requests and, after that some type of draft/allocation will be worked out.
      It will be interesting to see where Abby Wambach ends up. She recently bought a home in Portland, and she is a Rochester, N.Y. native, where the Western N.Y. franchise will presumably play.
      Clearly the wishes of the top players will be considered. I am also curious to see who from the national team, if anyone, opts to play overseas.

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