New women’s soccer league in the works for 2013 following meeting in Chicago

Jeff Kassouf June 29, 2012 39
Western New York Flash

The Western New York Flash won the W-League title in 2010 and the WPS crown in 2011. The team is currently in WPSL Elite League, but could be in its fourth league in as many years come 2013. (Photo Credit: Nell Enriquez)

A new women’s soccer league is on the table for 2013.

The resounding message that came Wednesday’s rather quietly conducted meeting in Chicago, featuring U.S. Soccer and soccer businessmen and women interested in filling the void left by the demise of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), is that there will be a new league that provides a higher level than any existing one.

Still, the proposed league has plenty left to be worked out. And any new league would be considerably downsized from the financial and operational commitments WPS attempted and the league would not be Division-1 status.

Four former WPS teams and current WPSL Elite League, WPSL and potentially, some USL W-League teams would be involved in the new, more modestly budgeted league, which would launch in 2013. The league would consist of 12-16 teams stretching from the East Coast to the West, sources say.

Who would run the league is the main question to be answered, but the U.S. Soccer Federation has been “absolutely supportive,” according to Boston Breakers managing partner Michael Stoller. The league would not be Division-1 status, which would add extra fees and more expensive minimum standards for teams. Budgets could be in the range of $500,000 per team.

“We put together what we think is the right structure and the right operating standards,” Stoller said. “The to-be-determined is what the relationship is with USL.”

The four former WPS teams anticipated to join the league are the Boston Breakers, Western New York Flash, Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC. New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC is idle this season, but did form a partnership with the W-League’s New Jersey Wildcats.

The Women’s Soccer United Association (WUSA) failed after three season (2001-2003), as did WPS, which kicked-off in 2009 and folded up shop before beginning a 2012 season.

In attendance at the meeting were officials from WPSL, USL, U.S. Youth Soccer and Tony DiCicco. USSF president Sunil Gulati announced before the May 27 USA-China friendly that this summit would be open to ‘all-comers.’ Former magicJack owner Dan Borislow was not in attendance.

More details could come forward in the next month.

  • So WPSL Elite and WPSL teams are going to start a new league… and it’s not assured that any W-League teams will join? How is that different from what exists now?

    • W-League incorporation would be new. Sky Blue joins. And not under WPSL, which still lacks some basic organizational/operational functions. Sounds like W-League is the key to this being ‘bi-coastal.’

      • If the WPSL & W-League can somehow work together and make a WPSL-League-Elite, then I’m all for it. Given the leagues’ histories, it’s not really something though possible, though, right? I guess we’ll see.

        Just seems odd to announce it now with so little concrete information. WPSL & W-League are still in season, Olympics coming up. This just muddies the waters, imho. And for casual observers, it may seem as though this means WPSL & W-League are on shaky ground.

        Your photo caption says it best: “Western NY Flash… could be in its fourth league in as many years come 2013.”

  • No name dropping any w-league teams that were interested? Was that just an omission or were none as interested as the WPSL/WPSL Elite teams listed?

  • What a cop out not giving the propossed league D1 status. Surely U.S. Soccer could find a way to limit or waive extra fees and more expensive minimum standards for this league to be a success. Now it is yet another second tier womens league, or better yet simply a merger of current second division leagues to form a single entity.

    • I am told that it was preferred by those at the meeting that the league not be D-1 to start. They want to start small.

      • Starting small is the way to go. Build it.

  • There likely will be WPSL and W-League teams on the West Coast who join.

    • Right, just have to get people to agree, which is always a lengthy process.

  • PASoccerdad

    If it is not D-1, how is this better than what is operating now ? I can’t see the WNT playing in this league for pocket change. Not excited and will not be a part of this …. hopes dashed one to many times…. let me know if there is a real Pro league coming because this sounds too amatuerish and we already have those leagues

    • StarCityFan

       If it’s coast-to-coast, and all the teams are the level of the better WPSL-Elite teams plus the Pali Blues, DC United Women, Atlanta Silverbacks, etc., then it’s definitely better than what we have now.

      • PASoccerdad

        Do you think all the teams will be better than Boston, NY Fury, DC United Women or Pali ? IMO We will not see games the likes of WiIdcats vs Freedom from 2005/2006 and those were exhibition games

    • Tony Anglin

       Okay you are the kind of person that downs something good they these people are trying to put together. From what you are saying if its not called a pro league the US players will not play in this New league? well you are wrong, just look at the tow leagues right now many many US national players and playing for nothing in these leagues. Please stop your bashing and get behind what these teams and the USSF are trying to do.

      • Tony Anglin

         I think this is a move in the right direction for sure!

      • PASoccerdad

        Yep, I am just bashing to bash…….Having Been involved with Top level teams in the W-League… It is just plain boring to watch them steamroll over teams just to have that 2-3 games where it may be slighly challenging… Players are going to go where the best coaches are and play for only a few select teams. BTW… the USWNT was banned from playing in the W-League and WPSL after 2005.. I believe it was contract or insurance related. It is nice to see that they have changed the stance on this this year (in the wake of the WPS folding) but they usually have a mandatory 30 day camp in the beginning of the summer (per contract)  I would rather see games that always competitive then what is occuring in the WSPL Elite where it may have half the teams being competitive (and some of that is based on callups)

        I don’t think the teams will have those types of players next year…. Now they will have time to look for a job and have to work because they will not be paid or it will be a modest stipend. You may see a few top players on teams, but only a few that can offer the training will be stacked

    • orange

       What other choice will the WNT players have except to go abroad to Sweden or Germany? Sure, those foreign leagues are more stable but they face the same problem this new American league will likely have – the pay is relatively crap and the competitiveness is narrowed to just a few teams. Just because it’s not technically D-1 doesn’t mean it will be somehow less than comparable foreign soccer leagues.

      • PASoccerdad

        In the past the contract called for 2 30 day camps in place of having a league. I think they would prefer that because they would be paid as opposed to not getting paid or losing money in a lower level league

    • The point is to have a ‘definitive’ top flight league as designated by USSF instead of the federation’s usual hands-off ‘we don’t want to get in the middle or offend anyone’ approach of not recognizing one league over the other as the top league. I would imagine USSF collecting the overall fees, setting the rules/standards of operation and ‘subcontracting’ out to USL/MLS to manage the operational/marketing aspects.

  • Inlineclass

    This is exciting news. I love your last sentence the best. I can only hope that there is a lifetime ban on him being involved in any women’s soccer anywhere, for any reason, ever.

  • If I understand this right, it will be a Non-Div I, semi-pro, coast-to-coast league made up of primarily, possibly totally, WPSL teams. Is this the pro league WPSL Elite was talking about all along, with a bone of ‘you can play, too’ thrown to the W League? That’s what the write up sounds like. I’m all for a combined league, but I don’t see how W-League benefits from this, this is what they already have. Also, if it can’t ramp up in a year or two between major USWNT events, it too will struggle to survive. One last observation, if at least 10% of the $500K budget does not go to media/marketing, they will not survive.

    • StarCityFan

       The W-League typically has a handful of very good teams, most of which are by themselves in their own division cheerfully beating up on the rest of the teams. They seldom play any other good teams until they get to the postseason or even to the Final Four. If they form a league with the dozen or so best Division II teams in the country (or, better yet, North America), this will be a significant improvement.

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  • phillypride

    Any word on Philadelphia?

    • Mathew Thenor Louis

      no philadelphia

  • “Former magicJack owner Dan Borislow was not in attendance.” Probably the most optimistic line in the whole article!! 🙂

  • Jennifer Gordon

    So if I’m reading this right the only teams that are likely going to be in it are the 4 WPS teams?

    • Jennifer Gordon

      I meant likely on board at the moment. Obviously there will be other teams.

  • guest

    If USL can’t work with WPSL it’s always possible that individual W-League teams could jump from one league to another.

  • Wear Nikes, Drink Gatorade

    This might be nonsense, but let me see if I understand the developments and their context:
    1. Individually, neither the WPSL nor the W-League possesses enough clubs that have a reasonable potential to be viable professional entities. However, if the two leagues combined their clubs that have the reasonable potential to be viable professional entities, there would be enough to have a sanctioned professional league.
    2. Currently, the WPSL and W-League are not on speaking terms, and there is no reason to believe that this situation will change anytime soon.
    3. The USSF attempts to get around each leagues intrasigence by pushing for a new league for the aforementioned clubs to be in.
    4. This new league will start off as a semi-pro league that will -provided that the demand and capital exists for it- evolve into a professional league over time. 

  • CoachDaugherty

    Sounds warm and fluffy. Not buying it for a moment. Until US Soccer decides to attempt to profit off a league, instead of a few warm bodies for a national team; it doesn’t matter the drama between WPSL and W-League. There will still be no financial support from a governing body that historically shown us; it isn’t important (profitable) enough for their effort.

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  • methinkstoomuch

    At least they’re talking. I don’t care what they label it. What matters is the quality of the players and the games and that everyone involved approaches the league professionally, whether or not it actually is. The best teams should be playing each other. And we all know who those are.

  •  Western New York Flash could be in its fourth league 

    • Philip

      And fourth championship 😉

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  • Ashley10

    Everybody does realize that there is no D-1 league for women in the world right now, right? Every league is semi-pro. I think (from what we know) that this is the smartest way to go forward. It has worked in Germany, Sweden, France, and England. Why not try a new model here? And a lot of the W-league and WPSL have players that play for free. It sounds like all the players will at least get paid something. Just have an open mindset going into this new league.

  • Wgardella2001

    The business model does not work.  Never did.  But maybe a modest budget with most of the players getting what would be a small stipend and some travel money the league could make a go at it.  As of investors, I would think of this as more of a charity case.   Best of luck and hope it works out.  

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