Posting this before the 1 p.m. ET conference call about the new league. Will update throughout. (Beforehand, I’m putting “likely” if I think it’ll be answered; “unlikely” if I think it won’t be, etc.)
Post-conference update: Answers in bold.
The basics from the call:
Eight teams: Boston, New Jersey, Western New York, D.C., Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle, Portland
U.S. Soccer will run front office and fund up to 24 players. Canada will fund up 16. Mexico will fund up to 12.
Q: What’s the name of the new league?
Predicted likelihood of answer (PLOA): Likely
(Actual – Jack Bell question): No answer yet.
Q: Does the new league have sponsors? A TV deal?
PLOA: Somewhat likely for sponsors; less likely for TV.
(Actual – my question): Handshake agreement on sponsor; preliminary talks with TV partner.
Q: A team in Kansas City, one that isn’t affiliated with the energetic and effective Sporting KC ownership, and not one in L.A.? What, you guys all have frequent-flier miles on Southwest? Any response to Charlie Naimo’s statement on L.A. being excluded?
PLOA: Sunil will probably decline to answer that.
(Actual: Michael Lewis question SPECIFICALLY on L.A.): “Doubt it” was pretty much right. Gulati joked that he feels like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell having to answer why there’s no team in L.A.
(Actual: Scott French question on L.A.): There was interest from L.A. but they’re not in first group.
Q: Terry Foley tweeted that his group had everything lined up but wasn’t picked. Any response?PLOA: Likely a polite, non-committal one.
(Actual: Michael Lewis question NOT SPECIFICALLY on Foley or L.A.): They had independent financial reviews and other criteria.
Q: Why no Canadian team?
(Actual: Neil Davidson question): Having a full national teams would skew the competition. Canadian cities could be involved down the road but not yet. (Answer from CSA president)
Q: How committed is U.S. Soccer to this league?PLOA: It’ll be answered; not quite sure how.
(Actual: Bell and Jeff Carlisle questions): Funding the players and front office.
Q: How many U.S. national team players will be under contract with the federation and the league?
PLOA: Should get a ballpark answer at least.
(Actual: opening statements): Up to 24.
Q: Will other players be fully professional?
(Actual: Carlisle question): Some may have other jobs or grad school. Mike Stoller, the Boston Breakers partner representing the eight ownership groups, said they will have a professional environment.
Q: Is this a multiyear commitment?
(Actual: Jeff DiVeronica question): We’re not asking people to put three years of operating expenses in escrow or anything, but it’s a multiyear commitment.
Q: What made Portland interesting?
(Actual: Oregonian question): Timbers fan base, investors led by Paulson family.
Q: Uhhh … Seattle Sounders?
PLOA: Very diplomatic answer.
Q: At one point, it appeared that the USL would be heavily involved in the operations. Why did that change?
(Actual: Jeff Kassouf question): Some former USL teams involved. Sunil thanks USL staff.
Q: How much collaboration with MLS?
(Actual: Jonathan Tannenwald question): Soccer United Marketing, Soccer United Marketing, Don Garber, Soccer United Marketing, Dan Flynn, Soccer United Marketing.
Q: Salary cap?
(Actual: Kyle McCarthy question): “Certainly some guidelines.” Mentioned loose caps (or exceptions) from MLS and NBA.
Q: Hope Solo?
A: Next question.
Q: Hi, I haven’t read anything about women’s soccer in the last eight years. I was just wondering if Mia Hamm would be involved.
A: Mia is a wonderful ambassador for the game, etc., etc., what are you doing on this call?
Q: Mexico is involved. So will we have a team in Cancun?
A: No. Just players, no teams.
Q: Is Dan Borislow involved?
A: No. (I exchanged email with him. He’s skeptical of the league’s chance for success.)
ALSO ON THE NEW LEAGUE
Dan Borislow says he owns the Freedom name, and it would be an issue if other people started to use it.
Peter Wilt, who helped launch the Chicago Red Stars and put forth a proposed new business plan in December, had this to say: “More reasonable budgets mitigate the risk and provide a sensible baseline to build on. Federations subsidizing national team player compensation is a creative way to help keep expenses down and quality of play up. Across the board cost reductions will need to be implemented (relative to WPS costs) to reach the new budget targets however. While this new business model doesn’t assure breaking even, it does lessen the chances of losing significant sums and makes the business proposition more attractive, which should attract more investors in the future.”
6 thoughts on “New women’s soccer league: Questions and evolving answers”
One of the most promising things here is the seeming quality of the media outlets and writers on the call and participating. Not just the handful of diehards/regulars asking questions
I would like to think that if they passed up an LA franchise they had a very good reason or three to do so (I think it’s fair to look at LA Sol for some reasons why an LA team could be financially/logistically prohibitive to launch – even without a Marta). I’ve already seen a lot of hand wringing on the net about it, and knowing how critical women’s soccer fans can be I hope that this decision doesn’t overshadow the fact that there are 8 great markets slated to participate from the get-go, with interest from a few more (including LA).
Beau, could you clear up the answer regarding the lack of a Canadian team, if you could? Is the CSA President implying that a Canadian team would have looked pretty much like the Canadian national team (ala Lyon in France)? And if so, would this have been due to FIFA and Canadian work/visa issues – meaning, would a Canada-based team have been limited in the number of non-nationals they could roster, even in a league mostly based in the US?
Potentially having up to 52 players (almost three 18-person teams) funded by North American federations is very promising. It takes a huge burden off of owners when it comes to figuring out how to cover player salaries. Hopefully any issues regarding player availability for international duty, the number of club games missed for international duty, and other potentially contentious club vs country issues will be minimized with CSA, FMF, and USSF participation.
Thanks for the update.
re Andy’s comment – I told you guys that there’s a change in national news media interest, a tipping point ( in our favor). Maybe it was just Grant Wahl, Jeff Carlisle, ESPN generally, Ian Darke, Adrian and Arlo — but some sort of critical mass was reached with the last World Cup and Olympics.
Re media outlets — Grant, ESPN and so forth have always been there for the big events and the big announcements. Today was interesting because it had that group, the die-hards and the locals. (Well, Portland, Rochester and I think KC?)
Re Canada — I think the way the question was framed, it was asking about both the potential of an all- or mostly Canadian team based in Canada. So the answer was about all aspects — having a mostly Canadian team, having a team IN Canada, etc. The former won’t happen because it would just be too strange of a competition. The latter may happen at some point, but remember that the Whitecaps’ commitment to women’s soccer has been questioned in the past year or so.
Re LA, and I’ll ask this aloud on Twitter — could the lack of attendance at Pali games have been a factor?
Trying to have a successful professional sports league in the USA without at least one team in California is like trying to win a Presidential Election without California’s electoral votes.
It wasn’t that there was no interest in Cali to fielding a team in a new pro women’s soccer league, it would appear it was more like there was no interest in having a Cali team in this new pro women’s soccer league by the USSF. Why not is a good question…
Not that the state will feel deprived. After all, there are probably too many pro sports teams in the state already. 5 MLB teams, 4 NBA teams, 3 NFL teams (even with no team in LA!), 3 NHL teams (when they are actually playing), and (at latest count, although this could change by the hour) 14 ABA teams.
Good luck to this as yet unnamed Pro Women’s Soccer League. We will watch with interest from Cali.
I suspect the as yet unknown national sponsor’s name will appear on the league’s name. “Virginia Slims” comes to mind for some reason, but it shows my age. But that is a matter for another press conference announcement…