Women’s Professional Soccer League – Calls it Quits for the 2012 Season….but with plans for 2013!
The WPS aimed to survive regardless of the turmoil and legal dispute with ousted owner, Dan Borislow, whose magicJack team was terminated by Women’s Professional Soccer. Borislow filed suit against the league in Palm Beach County Florida Circuit Court seeking reinstatement of the team.
Although Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) just completed the WPS Draft at the NSCAA annual convention a day after the MLS Super Draft, and had plans to make 2012 the most competitive and successful season to date, the league’s Board of Governors voted Monday to suspend the season with hopes of resuming in 2013, the WPS announced.
The WPS Board of Governors voted to suspend the 2012 season to permit the League to focus on the resolution of pending legal issues and the challenges that now face the League as a result of its ongoing dispute with a former owner.
U.S. Soccer Federation’s President Sunil Gulati said, “Along with WPS and their owners, we are disappointed that there will not be a women’s professional league in 2012. While suspending operations was a difficult decision for the league, it allows everyone to concentrate on determining the best approach moving forward to ensure there is long term sustainability. In the future, we will have conversations with WPS about resuming play in 2013 and beyond.”
The WPS have played a vital role for women’s soccer in America. U23 WNT Coach Randy Waldrum has said the WPS teams are important and have provided key playing opportunities for women.
Gulati said, “As for how this affects the Women’s National Team’s preparation leading into the Olympics, we have had discussions with the coaching staff and will be increasing our programming over the next six months.”
How did this happen? Could the WPS’s decision to terminate ties with the magicJack team have such far reaching impact? WPS is currently invovled in litigation with magicJack.
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 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 the 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.”
“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.”
Western New York Flash head coach Aaran Lines told SoccerNationNews, “This is a family-run club, and so I am involved perhaps more than other coaches. There was an indication (that something was happening) over the weekend, but before the weekend, I had no idea. We were rocking and rolling just a few weeks ago. Obviously the players are disappointed, and in shock. This came as a surprise. It is sad and unfortunate.”
Discussing options for the upcoming year with SoccerNationNews, AJ Cecere of Western New York Flash said, “The New York Flash are just looking for a competitive league, the highest competition we can find. And we are reaching out to all our options, including the W-League and the WPSL.”
In a letter to their fans and supporters, Boston Breakers Associate General Manager Lee Billiard said, “Like our loyal supporters, we are upset by today’s announcement. The Boston Breakers were in a very good situation both on and off the field for 2012.”
“We want to thank all of those who purchased season memberships,” Billiard continued. “Thanks to you, we were in a great position to exceed previous years’ ticket sales. We will continue to work hard supporting WPS, our players, and our supporters with a view to returning soon.”
It is disappointing to see the WPS suspend the 2012 season. Women’s soccer needs all the support and consistency it can muster. Regardless of the WPS’ decision, we should remember that USA women lead the world in soccer. The USA is the only country that has always placed in the top three in the Women’s World Cup since the start of the competition.
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 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 court case does not look good for the WPS. Recently, a Florida judge ruled in favor of Borislow, stating that the WPS had failed to follow proper dispute procedures when terminating the majicJack franchise. The next court hearing is set for Wednesday, February 1, 2012.
O’Sullivan blames the majicJack situation for the 2012 season’s suspension. According to Associated Press, O’Sullivan stated that owners chose to cancel the season over possibly working with Borislow in the league again. “We have diverted so many resources into litigation,” she said. “This is something that needs to be resolved before we can move forward with play.”
What will come next? Our country needs a professional women’s league. At the WPSL annual meeting, there was discussion of launching a semi-pro league. Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Commissioner Jerry Zanelli says, “It is very disappointing to see what is happening with the WPS. The WPSL has worked very closely with the WPS. We would invite all the WPS teams to come to join the WPSL as a seperate conference in our league. The WPSL already has two teams with professional players. We are the only all-women’s league in the country and we should all work together do what is best for the good of women’s soccer.” The WPSL is the largest national women’s soccer league in the world and has 70 plus teams registered.