WPS teams move on; WPS does not

If you’ve been looking for just a little bit of good news in pro women’s soccer, you got it today. The Western New York Flash and Boston Breakers will play this season, and a couple of well-established WPSL teams (FC Indiana, former WPSer Chicago Red Stars) will be moving into an “elite league” to join them. I’m guessing Marta won’t be involved, but this will give a lot of WPS players a few options other than fleeing the country.

But if you read what I’ve written at espnW, you’ll see things aren’t quite as rosy for the league as a whole.

Dan Borislow’s motion for a temporary injunction is morphing into a motion to enforce “The Deal.” Many readers believe “The Deal” was never finalized. Borislow’s legal team argues most vociferously that it was.

(Sorry I’m not embedding the document this time — these two combined would probably break my blog. Here’s the Motion to Enforce Settlement.)

The second document — Declaration of Louis S. Ederer (Borislow’s attorney) — is enough to make you wonder when and how this case will ever end.

As I say in the story, one revelation here is that the league’s laundry lists of accusations against Borislow (you remember — the stuff Deadspin called “The Angry Emails That Helped Cost Boca Raton Its All-Star Pro Soccer Team”) was basically ignored by the court to this point. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised, given that the court has thus far limited itself to the termination procedures. But this was brought up early, when the league was trying to get the case dismissed. The league says back in its opposition to Borislow’s original motion that it’s a bit rich for Borislow to point to these agreements after (according to the league) breaching his own responsibilities so many times.

I say “according to the league” because Borislow denies all this. He firmly believes the league had no reason to dismiss him.

And I should clarify one thing from the previous post on this matter. It wasn’t Borislow’s business plan to say “Nah, I’m not going to buy sign boards because I’m putting the money toward players.” The sign-board disagreement is more about Borislow’s objection to his lack of TV games and some related disputes.

So from all this, we have a bunch of questions I’d like to throw open to my civil, thoughtful commenters:

1. Who’s joining the four teams already announced for the WPSL elite division?

2. There’s no sanctioning problem with that division, right? Right? (Shouldn’t be — WPSL has had pro teams in the past.)

3. Which players will be around to play for these teams?

4. What’s the deal with “The Deal”? Can Borislow compel teams to play him in 2013 if they return to WPS as scheduled?

5. What did U.S. Soccer say about “The Deal,” when did they say it, and to whom did they say it?

6. Why such an insistent discovery process over the suspension of the 2012 season, which neither party apparently believes is a violation of “The Deal”?

7. What’s the way forward from this?

Comment away …


21 thoughts on “WPS teams move on; WPS does not

  1. Borislow may not be the only reason for the league suspension, but his determination to drag this lawsuit out will be the thing that kills it.

  2. 1. Might want to ask Coach Daugherty about that.

    2. I bet there isn’t if they’ve got the money.

    3. The 99% of players that weren’t able to get snapped up by an international team.

    4. I think “The Deal” might just hold up, that’s why I think WPS either needs to make nice & play w/Dan or disband and come back in some other incarnation.

    5. They’ll never tell.

    6. Ammunition for arbitration, or to show that much more than Dan’s lawsuit is in play. Maybe they can find out the answer to question 5.

    7. Seems like Dan is prepared to play hardball, they’re at the put up or shut up stage. I still believe WPS needs to find a way to work with Dan or disband and come back as WSP or PSW or WTF.

  3. The owner of the Maryland Capitols, a new WPSL team, is pretty ambitious (and has recruited former Freedomites like Emily Janss and Caitlin Miskel). I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s another team that will join the “elite.”

  4. As far as I can tell, the parties walked into this matter with one legal agreement in dispute and are now at a point with two agreements in dispute and possibly a third matter to be thrown into the mix (regarding the exhibit where it seems like the plaintiff is asserting treble damages for the refusal of the league to return escrow money).

    Hindsight is 20/20, but why on god’s green earth did the other owners agree to a business deal going forward for two years with someone they don’t appear to want to work with and who they are trying to get out of the actual agreement in existence?

    At this point, I see no reason for optimism for the WPS to have a 2013 season.

  5. As a followup, I can’t help but to wonder if, rather than getting into this procedural morass and subsequent settlement dispute, where would we be if the league had reserved it rights but hadn’t fought jurisdiction and terminology on termination, but rather had walked into court on day 1 and said, yes, let’s go to arbitration right now on termination….would the court have said if all parties agree to ADR no need for us to be inserted in the middle.

    Would this be closer to resolution? I have no idea.

  6. Beau,

    Do you research anything you write…Oh wait, when I am done writing just say a smart ass comment and ignore.

    WPSL gives players an option?????? Really what is the option?

    The WPSL is a league that has been run on very little rules and enforcement of the rules that they do have. When FC Indiana won the WPSL they added players weeks before the the Championship match. The W-League is run professionally and with enforced rules making it legitimate. When FC Indiana moved into the W-League the better teams won! Hell FC Indiana didn’t even win there conference last season losing out to a legitimate club run program not like the Red Stars.

    Option hmmmmmmm- Option for the wealthy suburban soccer player? What player can continue playing unless they have well off parents to float them through there fantasy years. This league will be full of players that are putting off reality of having to grow up. Playing in this Elite league is great for at home college players and great high school players not graduated players.

    Lets be serious and are you really going to tell me now this is a positive option. WOW lets keep taking the bar and just lower it to fit our goals. I mean look at Star City he is so excited to watch Emily Janss a 5’3 33 year old defender. Are you kidding??

    Well I can’t wait tonight to head down and watch a 25 year and older coed indoor league…I hear a pro league is starting soon.

  7. I’m really curious about the WPS side of “The Deal.” (And no, I don’t mean Halstead’s quotes that he didn’t know about something with exhibition games. Clearly, the other owners did.)

    Did WPS take a huge gamble in letting this deal be read in court on the 18th? Why not go ahead and argue the “irreparable harm” issue?

    The possible outcomes if they had done that:

    1: They win, and Borislow’s back to square one. Not sure what he could do after that.

    2: They lose, then suspend the 2012 season. That means Borislow would be part of a league that’s not in operation, and they can move ahead with arbitration to get away from him before 2013.

    Instead, they’re going to face a ton of arguments about this deal BEFORE they can even get to arbitration!

    Maybe they figured the deal was tentative, and it bought them a little bit of time to figure out what to do with the season. And perhaps they didn’t figure Borislow’s legal team would respond so aggressively when the deal fell apart.

    I’m probably missing something in my non-lawyerly legal analysis, and I have to emphasize that parts of these proceedings are still confidential. But I can’t help wondering if whatever they hoped to achieve with the deal has simply backfired.

    And I wonder when I’m going to hear back from the court about when they’re going to schedule a simple phone call!

  8. So let’s sum up Ben’s argument:

    1. He doesn’t like the WPSL.

    2. Therefore, I don’t research anything.

    All righty, then.

    Actually, I do understand some skepticism about the WPSL’s readiness to run a sort-of professional operation like this. But unless the W-League was ready to do exactly the same thing — and we have no evidence to suggest that — I don’t see how the Flash/Breakers news is a negative.

  9. Drop all lawsuits and fold the league. If in time you feel that you have the organization and backing restructure with a new name. Save the legal costs and move on. Or at that time use the same name and vote in new bylaws that Danny cannot follow. Let him do whatever he wants to do with his team now. Who is going to play there?? Abby.

    Did I write anything that is not fact? Again you read one sentence and move on. Where did I say I didn’t like the WPSL? I said it was good for college elite and High school elite. But hey dismiss it.

  10. Ben – From your comments I also believed you didn’t like WPSL. So I can understand where Beau got that.

    Anyways, I am also thinking its time for WPS to disband and then reform as a new corporation to get rid of the lawsuit, maybe they could figure out a way to sell the rights to the WPS name to the new corp. It seems like the quickest way to get things going and prepped for 2013. I think the key is to make sure there is no way Borislow could buy the WPS in its current form before it was put to bed and the new corp was created.

    However, there must be a reason why they can’t do this or I would think they would have already taken steps towards it. BTW I’m no lawyer so while I know there have been instances of Corporations dissolving and reforming that seemed to have ended their legal troubles I don’t know the fine points of that.

    1. WPS needs to go, it is a sinking ship with a discredited name due to revenue loss and legal demise.
      W-League has done absolutely nothing, let them stay that way.
      WPSL has made a strive for women’s soccer to survive. Additionally, they had already been formulating a ‘Elite’ division prior to WPS dropping out. Finally, creating a two tier system in the future (Rome wasn’t built over night), allows a model to form based off many world league models including Sweden; with a premier division on top of ‘feeder’ amateur divisions below. Top tier stays high dollar with a national league title, the other divisions stay primarily region with a super playoff at the end. This could demographically and geographically illustrate where our soccer strength is, plus enables everyone the potential to “make it pro”, instead of a specific group of national team players.

  11. I’m waiting to see who agrees to play for these teams. That makes all the difference, imo.
    Are we going to be seeing the top players in uniform or not?
    Ashlyn Harris, Christen Press, Ali Riley, Whitney Engen, the rookies just drafted? If the top players (minus NT players, I’m assuming) are in this 8-team elite league, I’ll spend some money on travel to go see some games.

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