Official: 2012 Women’s Professional Soccer Season Put On Ice

By now you’ve likely heard the news. The official statement from WPS:

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 30, 2012) – Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) announced today that its Board of Governors has voted to suspend the 2012 season to permit the League to focus on the resolution  of certain pending legal issues and  the challenges that now face the League as a result of its ongoing dispute with a former owner.

“We are proud of what the League has accomplished in the first three seasons, but we do recognize the necessity to resolve our existing legal and operational issues so that we can continue to support and grow WPS the right way,” said Sky Blue FC Owner Thomas Hofstetter. “This was a very difficult decision, but one we as owners feel is the best business decision for the League at this time.”

The Board voted on Monday morning to suspend the 2012 season.  Over the last year the league has faced significant challenges, including a lengthy and expensive legal battle with a former owner.  The litigation has diverted resources from investment in the league and has forced the Board to take action, suspending the 2012 season in order to address the legal issues head-on before moving forward with competition.

“We firmly believe there is a place in the global sports landscape for Women’s Professional Soccer,” said WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan.  “Making the decision to suspend the 2012 season was a difficult and painful one, but it is necessary to take the time to address current issues and solidify our business in order to provide appropriate support needed to achieve the League’s long-term goals. Those that take part in our League – players, partners and fans – deserve the best, and that is what we are taking the time to ensure we deliver when we resume play in 2013 and beyond.”

WPS has established its plans to return to play in 2013, and all five owners of the League’s existing teams – Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence, Sky Blue FC and Western New York Flash – will remain active with the CEO, Jennifer O’Sullivan, in the governance of WPS throughout the current year.

“We are deeply grateful to our fans and partners for the tremendous support they have shown for WPS, our players and the sport,” added O’Sullivan.  “With our supporters and athletes in mind, we are committed to complete the hard work necessary to resume play in 2013 and reestablish WPS as the premiere women’s professional soccer league in the world.”

 

The e-mail Atlanta Beat owner Fitz Johnson sent to players this morning:

Ladies,

It deeply saddens me to inform you today,  the Women’s Professional Soccer League has suspended the 2012 season and league operations.

We were very excited about the opportunity to work with each of you and know that we had put together an amazing team.  It is unfortunate we are unable to work together in pursuit of a championship.  We wish you all the success in your future endeavors.  Over the last year the league has faced significant challenges, including a lengthy and expensive legal battle with a former owner. The litigation has diverted resources from investment in the league and has forced the Board to take action, suspending the 2012 season in order to address the legal issues head-on before moving forward with competition.

A formal Press release will be sent out from the League office around 1pm today.

I am certainly available to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.  Do not hesitate to contact me.

Best,

T. Fitz Johnson, Esq.

 

 Sincerest condolences to those personally affected by the news. Will post thoughts once they form. That’s all, folks.

24 thoughts on “Official: 2012 Women’s Professional Soccer Season Put On Ice

    1. Bill

      Right. You can lay this issue on the ongoing lawsuit, the sponsors being driven away, the lack of sanctioning, but all of those are because of the choices made by the current management (CEO + other teams). They’ve brought this on themselves with approving Borislow, and with how the dealt with him and failed to follow their own termination policies.

      Also, due to their lack of agreement/commitment in general. Note the differing repsonses each team has – Atlanta throws up their hands and says ‘sorry’; SBFC says ‘TBD’; WNY says “eff it, we’re playing somewhere.”

      Reply
  1. StarCityFan

    Brings back memories of the fall of the WUSA in 2003, but this seems to be less disastrous – at least the franchises remains, and there’s actual hope of resuming next year. Hope the teams join the W-League or WPSL in the interim.

    Reply
  2. Dude

    WPS has obviously had mismanagement issues, but as far as Borislow goes, I’ve got to ask…how can a guy continue to hamstring the league, rather than step away graciously, and still claim to care about Women’s Soccer?

    Reply
  3. mskenny

    Borislow cares only about himself. He bought the team as a play thing, with Abby and Hope as his personal toys. Why any woman in this day would consent to be such a thing I can’t imagine.

    Reply
  4. Chuck Coan

    Really? Esq. Really! I used to sign my high school papers Charles E. Coan Esq. with a big flourish under my name in order to appear cool. I out grew the habit.

    Reply
  5. random

    As much as I’m angry at the whole Borislow situation, the fact that the league left it to this late just makes me so angry for the players both at the league and Borislow. If I was one of them I don’t know that I would come back to the US to play if the league played again next season, I’d try to get overseas and stay there.

    Reply
  6. jen

    Dan needs to promote his new magicjack product version 2.0 so as long as his name is out there, he is making money. It is all part of biz for him.

    Reply
  7. mmbop

    If the WPS does return next year, it will be one of the first examples of such survival – in any pro sport. Fact is that the future of domestic major league women’s soccer is very… very questionable. To say it is on life-support is an understatement. Its unfortunate and it may be simple to place a significant part of the blame on Borislow as villian, but to do so misses lots of other causes for the league’s demise. Reality is that the current leadership team for the league, including current owners and league officials are just as much to blame as Borislow. Lets not forget who invited him to this garden party in the first place!

    Reply
  8. Gary

    What strikes a nerve with me is the timing of this announcement. Surely, given the state of affairs with the league and its ongoing legal issues, this outcome had to have been the most likely of all scenarios. To not allow time for the players to seek moves elsewhere is a great disservice and an inexcusable offence, particularly those who will not be earning due to their being a part of their national team player pool.

    Reply
  9. Rob

    With the Olympics this summer a lot of the marquee players would miss a good chunk of the season (US national as well as foreign-born players) This could be a blessing in disguise if the league is able to resume in 2013. The franchises at least wouldn’t be paying their stars to not play in games that are likely to be sparsely attended.

    Reply
  10. Theobservantspectator

    Really too bad. Would be nice if some of the big networks would step in and support the five teams as a “new” league for time slot filler. Could keep things moving forward.

    Reply
  11. Gary

    What is also upsetting to me is that it seems as though a lot of these issues have been self-inflicted. Failure to follow their own by-laws and policies when dealing with disciplinary issues with Dan a spectacular failure of leadership. Whoever is advising the Board with these legal matters should be removed immediately.

    Reply
  12. Quick as a Flash

    I suspect some people are calling Dan the Bad Boy when a very central issue is disagreement on a business model. I suspect that one and possibly two owners (one being in Philadelphia) are pushing for a business model where salaries are capped at very modest levels, comparable with many European countries. The problem with this model is that foreign players will no longer participate and many US players will go overseas. As a result there will be no big sponsors and no TV contract. In other words, it won’t work.

    How depressing.

    Reply
    1. random

      I’m not sure I follow, if the salaries are capped at modest levels comparable to Europe why would many US players go overseas? If the salaries are the same, unless they are going for the change in culture I don’t see those players taking on the expenses of overseas travel and living and possibly less competitive leagues (depending on the country). I do agree that you’ll see more foreign players stay home if they can’t get paid more here.

      Reply
  13. Dude

    Besides showcasing really good soccer, what I’ve always liked about WPS is that it was made up of self-empowered women.
    They set an example for others…not just for the young girls who look up to them…but also for the women and men who admire and respect them.

    They simply inspire people.

    And women’s soccer will certainly continue to inspire, whether that’s with the WNT at the Olympics, in domestic women’s soccer leagues besides WPS, or in leagues overseas.
    But I certainly hope that Professional women’s soccer will pick up here again in the US in the near future. If you look at the cultural and sports landscape here in America for women, it’s obvious that it’s needed.

    Reply
    1. VaFan

      I completely agree with Dude’s comment, but I also wonder where we can find the empowered women who can — and will — support women’s soccer financially. Is it really Oprah or no one?
      And, as I try desperately to find some thing positive in this situation, is it possible there will be a massive talent flow into the W-League?

      Reply
  14. john

    Well that stinks! I’m no Danny Boy fan, but let’s be real here. Every franchise was on shaky ground. I’d not be surprised if some owners aren’t heaving a huge sigh of relief that some “external” issue got them off the money draining train. Is it just me or is an owner who signs off Esq. (implying he’s an attorney) scary when you realize he can’t read his own termination regs. Just asking! WPS or its successor needs to find a way to attract players w/ salaries that reflect the real revenue of the league. The selling point of competing w/ the world’s best in quality sites has to offset any thought of “big” earnings. Even in its struggles WPS offered a player some of the largest crowds in the womens league soccer anywhere. Another sad thought: if a judge awards Danny Boy damages will any owner last through that financial hit?
    Will Fox carry the Fruen Bundesliga?

    Reply
    1. cow pasture alum

      It is misleading to refer to the arbitration procedures in question as “termination regs.” They concerned resolution of disputes among owners generally, not specifically termination, and the other owners made a case that termination actions were not covered. Obviously they did not persuade the judge in the end, but it could have gone either way.

      What basis could Borislow have for damages? Lost profits, when the club wasn’t making a profit to begin with? The arbitrator may simply affirm that the league was within its rights to terminate him all along.

      Reply
      1. john

        Damage to reputation comes to mind. He could just print out the comments section from this blog. Besides as you know damages can be compensatory and/or punitive. The bottom line is many mistakes were made by all sides leaving all WoSo players, fans, backers, etc. in the lurch.

        Reply
        1. cow pasture alum

          A judge cannot award damages that Borislow has not sought. Borislow has not alleged damage to his reputation, and he would not have much of a case if he did. What you see in the comments section of this blog is just a bunch of ordinary folks exercising their First Amendment rights.

          Reply

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