The Lowdown: Looking at 3 issues facing NWSL

Dan Lauletta February 14, 2017 121
NWSL's deal with A+E is a landmark one for the league, but like all business deals comes with its concerns (graphic by NWSL)

NWSL’s deal with A+E is a landmark one for the league, but like all business deals comes with its concerns (graphic by NWSL)

We’re not even two weeks out from NWSL announcing a major media deal with A+E and already the league is preparing for a crush of negativity with the expected move of Carli Lloyd to Manchester City. If that happens as expected, Lloyd will be the fourth player to start 2016 on the subsidized list who will be starting 2017 in Europe. That along with NWSL’s relative silence since the A+E announcement has some NWSL fans on edge.

As usual, the real story about the state of NWSL lies somewhere between the unfettered euphoria over the A+E partnership and the utter despair over another national team regular leaving for Europe.

NWSL, A&E deal

Overall vibe: extremely positive

Backing it up: Having an outside entity not only take an interest in the league but a stake in it (Caitlin Murray of FOX Sports reported A+E now owns 25% of NWSL) cannot possibly be viewed through anything but a positive lens. The deal includes a Game of the Week on Lifetime in a set time slot including a fully produced, 30-minute pregame show plus an investment of capital.

The television deal covers three years, which is the opposite of the last four years which were all limited, one-year rights deals. They often had messy rollouts, too. The 2015 announcement was made less than two hours before the United States-Germany World Cup semifinal kicked off and included a hidden change in date for the NWSL Championship. Last year the commissioner teased an announcement ahead of the regular season opener. It came, but with the codicil that the first televised match was five months in the offing. The new agreement not only means more games to watch, but for the first time an NWSL off-season will begin with no questions about where and when fans will be able to find matches a year down the road.

The deal also calls for NWSL and A+E to form a media and sponsorship arm for the league, NWSL Media. This could turn out to be the most significant part of the A+E venture. As much as the 2015 World Cup delivered an injection of energy into NWSL, the league was unable to capitalize on it from a sponsorship standpoint. Lining up with a partner to help push this area forward could have more long-range impact on NWSL than being able to see a match on television every Saturday.

{MARCH ROSTERS: Australia, Germany others name squads ahead of tournaments}

Cause for concern? Every partnership looks and sounds good at its outset. But every partnership has a red flag or two attached, and this one is no different. The marketing strategy and iffy broadcast window are among them, but those are two factors that can easily be adjusted if and when it becomes necessary.

Of more concern is what happens as the end of the three-year agreement approaches. If things go poorly, will there be a soft landing point for NWSL owners? If things go well, will they progress in a manner that suits the vision and needs of both sides? Will other, bigger networks like FOX be in play, or does the exclusivity to A+E (ESPN is under the same umbrella as A+E) remain for as long as they are business partners with the league? That will be a good problem to have obviously.

There is also no answer yet to how and where the non-televised matches will be streamed which has fans, especially those from outside the United States, in a mild state of panic. With 60 days until the presumed season openers, it will likely be a scramble to have everything up and running in time. That could make for a messy launch, but that too can be overcome.

USWNT exodus to Europe

The vibe: very negative

Carli Lloyd appears to be the next USWNT player to leave NWSL for Europe(Getty Images)

Carli Lloyd appears to be the next USWNT player to leave NWSL for Europe(Getty Images)

As I said above, Lloyd would be the fourth player from last year’s allocation list to go to Europe. One of them, Heather O’Reilly, is retired from international soccer and was not slated to be paid by U.S. Soccer again. Another, Alex Morgan, stated her long-term commitment to Orlando Pride in her announcement about going to Lyon. Crystal Dunn said not this year for NWSL, and Carli Lloyd has so far said nothing.

So what gives?

Backing it up: Losing prominent players is never good for any league. Morgan and Lloyd in particular can literally move the ticket sales needle, and all four add levels of intrigue and sophistication to matches. And Morgan’s absence could be crippling to the Pride, who paid a king’s ransom to acquire her when they came into the league and may not be deep enough to withstand her absence. The same can be said of Dunn in Washington, although the situation there is far more complicated.

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I’ve been firmly on the side of keeping an even keel on this since Morgan made the first announcement in December. But obviously the more players that leave NWSL, the more difficult it becomes to justify as a one-off and to sell the league to fans as the place to see their favorite national team players every week. So just how alarmed should we be?

Silver linings: When A+E was introduced as NWSL’s partner, it was with a specific aim at trying to make stars out of the league rather than making a league out of stars. That mentality will prevail over the loss of any single player, and probably over the loss of any four players. And NWSL is still filled with excellent players including international talent like Jess Fishlock, Rachel Daly, Sam Kerr and others—all of whom could easily land contracts in Europe.

NWSL is also the home to some great young talent like Lynn Williams, Lauren Barnes, Shea Groom, Leah Galton and Vanessa DiBernardo, just to name a few.

Jeff Plush last month said the league is not looking to add a mechanism similar to Major League Soccer’s designated player rule that allows clubs to spend beyond the salary cap to attract specific players on a limited basis. I’m with the majority though who believe that is the surest way to start competing with the likes of Lyon and some of the FAWSL clubs whose purse strings are tied to major men’s clubs.

The collective bargaining agreement

The vibe – uneasy

Reasons to worry: The lack of a new agreement between the national team players and U.S. Soccer appears to be the reason for the list of subsidized players not being announce to this point. It has also been the source of uncertainty surrounding the contract status of all national team players. Morgan has said she plans to return to the Pride after the Lyon season but it does not appear she has a contract binding her to that arrangement. Similarly, Dunn and now likely Lloyd are off to Europe, apparently without any sort of transfer involved.

NWSL was founded on the basis that U.S. Soccer and its CONCACAF partners in Canada and Mexico would help offset player costs and fund the league office. The lack of a CBA at that time nearly unhinged the league before it started. Four years later the league and its clubs are established and A+E is on board as a major partner. In other words things are not tied to US Soccer quite as much as they were at startup. But Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer, was part of the A+E announcement and the organization is still very much involved.

A slightly greater, short-term concern is that neither Plush nor some players have guaranteed the remaining national team players will be at preseason without a deal.

Reasons for optimism: The threat of a work stoppage has lingered for a year and has not happened yet. That coupled with Gulati’s recent comments that the tone of talks had changed with new players in the room are just two indicators that this is more likely to be resolved than not, even if the timing is something less than perfect.

Furthermore, if the players are balking at NWSL preseason, it only means they prioritize it more than we might meet the eye. Even if they miss some time, and even if some are in Europe, that’s a good thing.

Free kicks

-The schedule should be out this week, possibly with home openers out ahead of the full monty. Note that should when it comes to any schedule should be taken lightly. So while it should be out this week, hang tight on planning any NWSL schedule discussion parties for this weekend.

-The season is supposed to open the weekend of April 15-16 which would put the Lifetime debut on the 15th. The five NWSL venues best suited for television–Portland, Orlando, Houston, Chicago, and North Carolina–are all booked that day.

-The Pride acquired an international slot from the Red Stars in exchange for their 2nd round pick in 2018. That puts the Pride completely out of next year’s draft for the moment. I believe this trade will turn out to be a bigger deal for the Pride than it seems like.

-Michelle Betos is heading to Norway which is maybe the most surprising defection from NWSL this off-season. After starting her career as a backup, Betos went on to win NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015 and helped the Thorns win the Shield in 2016.

-Happy to see the Courage bring Scott Vallow back as Paul Riley’s assistant. Vallow ran the sideline for the then Western New York Flash in last year’s NWSL Championship after Riley was sent off during the semifinals and suspended for the final.

  • Som Termanni

    > plus an investment of capital

    How much money, Dan? $2 million? $5 million? $10 million? More? This is the lynchpin of the whole deal! Y’all can’t keep ignoring this.

    If this was a $2M/year deal just for game-of-the-week rights, I’d never have gone out on the ledge. If this deal is 8 figures, I’ll come down off the ledge.

    But for 25 percent! of the league AND two board seats, how is it not scary that the TV deal is _only_ for 3 years?

    If a _25 percent stake in the league_ is worth less than $5 million, how is this a good deal for anyone?

    Did MLS give up 25% ownership to anybody in its first 5 years? Has any long-lived pro sports league? How did it work out for them?

    > does the exclusivity to A+E (ESPN is under the same umbrella as A+E) remain for as long as they are business partners with the league? That will be a good problem to have obviously.

    How is having _less leverage_ to negotiate a new TV deal a _good problem_ to have, Dan? Please explain! Otherwise, this statement sounds ridiculous.

    > With 60 days until the presumed season openers, it will likely be a scramble to have everything up and running in time.

    Not only do they have 60 days to do it, they also haven’t filled the open, publicly listed positions to design, implement, or manage it, or their open legal counsel position, or their open sales management and account exec positions.

    > The five NWSL venues best suited for television–Portland, Orlando, Houston, Chicago, and North Carolina–are all booked that day.

    But they’re not all booked at the same time. Door is open for doubleheaders at some.

    • Bobby

      Couple Things:
      If my daughter’s favorite player is not playing in the NWSL she loses interest.
      We don’t go to the game.
      If my daughter’s favorite team is on TV we don’t go to the game. We save money!
      If I have to keep explaining what LGBT is to my daughter she loses interest. We don’t go to the game.
      Player(s) knelling down, etc. daughter loses interest. We don’t go to the game.

      It looks like we will be looking to spend our entertainment money elsewhere!

      • wosofan

        If the wind changes directions, your daughter loses interest.

        • FawcettFan14

          Well played.

        • Silver Frost

          Trump gets impeached. Daughter loses interest.

      • toak

        Wait.. your daughter loses interest if a player kneels down? Why would she care? Why would LGBT talk disturb your daughter’s enjoyment -does she spend all her time reading think pieces? Or maybe you’re projecting your views and really just spouting bullshit to prop up some weak argument.

        • Bobby

          A yea! Propping up my views, thats a laugh! 98% don’t agree with your lifestyle. I’m sorry you can’t find love!

          http://www.consumingfirefellowship.org/Homosexual%20Fact%20Sheet.htm

          • guest

            I feel very sorry for your daughter, to grow up with such an intolerant and ignorant father.

          • sam

            What are you talking about? He is a true patriot.
            GUNS. GOD. (NO) GAYS.

          • guest

            The ironic thing is that Jesus was the opposite of the modern Republican. He was basically a commie and a hippie. If he was a real person he would be considered “far left”. Even Bernie would’ve been too moderate for his tastes.

          • TsovLoj

            More anarchist than communist, but yeah, he didn’t exactly have a lot of praise for the job creators in Nazareth, as I recall.

          • mockmook

            Indeed, because job creators are evil.

            I mean, who needs a job? Am I right?

          • Lorehead

            That is indeed exactly what Jesus said. Behold the birds of the air; they sow not, neither do they reap, but the Lord feeds them. Behold the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin, but the Lord clothes them. Therefore, give no thought to tomorrow.

            He also repeatedly told his followers to give away everything they own and hold all their property in common, not privately.

            Neither you nor I agree with Jesus, but he did in fact explicitly say that rich people go to Hell.

          • Silver Frost

            Selective cognitive dissonance of the “values voters”. To vote for Trump and ignore his blasphemies, adulteries, fornication, gambling, bearing false witness as a lifestyle, not to mention alcohol sales.

          • Lorehead

            If you must look up a proof text to wave in their faces, I guess there’s a couple of them, including 1 Titus 3. An actual Trump elector from Texas resigned because he thought Trump was not Biblically qualified for office.

            It is very telling that, in the fall of 2016, the polls show Evangelicals suddenly deciding that they do not care whether the President shares their moral values after all. Historians are going to look back at the conservative movement of the Bush-Obama years and evaluate its sincerity based on how it behaved under the leadership of Donald Trump.

          • guest

            So now EQ readers are reduced to debating the meaning of Jesus? Well there’s a simple answer for these questions, an easy way to resolve this confusion! Everyone on their knees, face Mecca, and repeat after me “Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!”

          • Lorehead

            What a mature and intelligent response.

          • guest

            Are you insulting the Prophet?

          • Steglitz49

            No. He is insulting your intelligence.

          • Guest

            I love this Breitbart-esque response. “LIBTARDZ won’t follow Jesus laws and hate fetuses. Therefore they LOVE Muzzies and ISIS!”

          • guest

            Republicans target Christian value voters despite the hypocrisy because it is the only way they can get a significant chunk of the non-wealthy population to vote against their own (non-religious) interests.

          • Steglitz49

            They have been singularly effective at it.

          • anon

            They talk out of both sides of their mouths. The Trump campaign was the equivalent of your high school student council president election, where the class clown runs on the Free Taco Bell Everyday and Half Day Fridays ticket.

          • rkmid71

            Christian value voters = non wealthy population? I think enough of the non-wealthy population decided voting Democrat (and especially Clinton) hadn’t been doing them much good for long enough and that this was worth a try despite the less than ideal Republican option.

          • guest

            LOL. Republicans are responsible for torpedoing the economy.

          • Guest

            The Iraq war is the biggest and most expensive scandal in American history. Multiple people should have been imprisoned over that sh*t. Nixon’s BS is child’s play in comparison.

          • Steglitz49

            Ever heard of Vietnam?

          • TsovLoj

            Steglitz is absolutely right. Nixon’s manipulations got at least as many people killed in Indochina.

          • guest

            Guest is probably born after 1980.

          • TsovLoj

            Perhaps the disdain with which I use the term isn’t clear in the text. The concept of the wealthy as some sort of capitalist fairy godmother for the rest of us isn’t particularly compelling for me.

          • Silver Frost

            Who shipped 22 million American jobs to Asia under Bush? Republican job creators. I hear Mike Flynn is looking for a job right now. Putin is hiring.

          • mockmook

            So, you’re saying I should believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that I should take the Bible very, very seriously, right?

          • guest

            huh? you can believe whatever you want on your own time or in your place of worship. Just stay out of government, law and education. Separation of church and state and all, that thing our founding fathers were concerned with.

          • sam

            He’s saying that Christians are hypocrites.

          • Lorehead

            More that you don’t, and you’re right not to.

          • mockmook

            You just finished quoting him to me. Why?

            Are you saying he wasn’t just a left wing hack and that I should listen to him? That I need to take the the Bible (and the New Testament) seriously?

          • Lorehead

            Well, first of all, I don’t think we should be projecting today’s political arguments back onto him. Keeping partisan sniping to a minimum, it’s very common for Evangelicals to say that the Bible is the complete, literal, inerrant word of God, but that doesn’t actually make sense. In addition to contradicting itself, it also contradicts a bunch of other stuff you believe and a bunch of stuff I believe.

          • rkmid71

            You’re saying the Bible contradicts stuff you and mockmook believe? I’ll stick with the Bible. Also, I think the Bible is remarkably self-consistent, despite having been written by more than 40 different writers over about 2,000 years.

          • Lorehead

            There are people who legitimately try to live their lives according to at least what Jesus said, including his repeated commandment to sell everything they have and give it away to the poor. They’re monks and nuns who, like Acts 2:44 says, belong to an order that owns all their property communally.

          • rkmid71

            People are free to live their life. Who are we to judge? Also, I don’t recall that being one of the 10 Commandments. And it’s not good works that gets you to Heaven, though certainly couldn’t hurt.

          • Lorehead

            You’re giving the correct answers for your religion, and that’s fine. Still, there are a lot of contradictions in the Bible and someone who pays close attention will see them. (Example that’s unlikely to offend you: try to make a timeline of the last week of Jesus’ life based on Matthew, Mark, Luke and then John.) People who acknowledge this don’t lose their morals and become bad.

            There’s also a lot of stuff in there that we’ve just decided to ignore. I was using the word commandment in the sense of a command to do something, but since you bring up the Ten Commandments, there are some good examples in there. We all just decided to go ahead and make graven images of things, even though the Bible says not to, because that rule’s extremely inconvenient and makes no sense. The commandment to covet not anything that is your neighbor’s, aside from the fact that it directly endorses slavery, is literally impossible for any human being to obey.

          • You don’t have to read very far into the Bible to see that there are contradictions. There are two different, conflicting creation stories in the book of Genesis.

            It’s basically impossible to discuss or debate with someone who believes that the Bible is the complete, literal, inerrant word of God.

          • Lorehead

            It would be harder to find a chapter of the Bible that doesn’t contradict something else in the Bible than one that does. People who acknowledge this don’t become immoral.

          • guest

            Aside from the magic and mystical elements that don’t appear to be grounded in any plausible reality, the bible is absolutely riddled with inconsistencies. There is no evidence that Jesus even was a real person. You are free to believe what you want to, as are Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and Zoroastrians and Satanists, but my problem with the Religious Right is their hypocrisy and attempting to wedge their beliefs into social policy.

          • sam

            When YOUR religion affects MY right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, something has to give. Your right to practice your religion should be limited to your mind/person, home, and place of worship. This attitude that being a “real American” is being a white Christian is toxic. The Right doesn’t seem to understand that “libtards” don’t condone radical Islam or violence in the name of religion, just like we don’t condone radical Christianity or religion in government/education.

          • guest

            The right to the pursuit of (scientific) knowledge and reason should be in there too.

          • rkmid71

            Time magazine interview. Einstein was asked if he accepted the historical existence of Jesus, to which he replied:

            “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. No man can deny the fact that Jesus existed nor that his sayings are beautiful.“
            ~ Albert Einstein

            Einstein considered himself an agnostic. He also said “the fanatical atheists…are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’—cannot hear the music of the spheres.”

          • guest

            No one can prove God exists or that God doesn’t exist. No one can prove that any religion is the right one, or that any of them are true. Again, you can believe want you want to, that is your right. Just keep it out of policy making and education. Effectively declaring war against an entire religion as Steve Bannon desires makes him no better than al-Baghdadi.

          • rkmid71

            You can believe what you want. Even atheists have a form of “religion”. But I happen to believe having God mentioned in the Pledge of Allegiance, Declaration of Independence, Great Seal, Constitution, etc is a good thing. The eagle has an olive branch in its right talon, arrows in the left.

          • There’s actually A LOT of evidence that Jesus was a real person. Any religious or historical scholar agrees on this. Christians believe he was the son of God, but even agnostics acknowledge that he was a real person who lived in that time period. There’s also historical evidence that proves the existence of John the Baptist and many other people depicted in the Bible.

          • guest

            u iz stoopiddddddd

          • TsovLoj

            It’s not my faith tradition, but I can at least recognize where there are ideological commonalities.

          • guest

            I would describe Jesus as a socialist

          • guest

            He was also, in all likelihood, brown skinned and possibly gay. The horror!

          • guest

            you forgot the fourth republican tenet – GREED.

          • Steglitz49

            What is the First Democratic one? Shooting yourself in the foot at every opportunity?

          • Steglitz49

            Guns and Roses?

          • Diane (DeeG)

            I read your link. I was not impressed by your one-sided, erroneous, male-centric, out-dated view of my life. It’s not a “lifestyle” anymore than your life is. If you pass this on to your daughter, by way of constantly explaining your version of my life, what will you say to her if she was to perhaps be gay? If she was, she will be the first to tell you it isn’t a choice. Why would any daughter with a father so misinformed and unaccepting choose to be gay?

            Aside from all that, it is definitely your option to spend your money wherever you like. The NWSL is committed to be an inclusive and accepting league for ALL people and if you attend a game you agree to that commitment. If you can’t agree to that, then it’s best you stay away. I only feel sorry for your daughter that you can’t see past some archaic prejudice and she has to miss out on something she enjoys.

          • Steglitz49

            I have always found it fascinating that Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary is openly lesbian, has female partner and has had children while the geezer who ran against Cheney on the Democratic VP ticket had an affair while his wife had breast cancer.

            By their fruit ye shall know them. Verily.

          • guest

            What does Dick Cheney’s independent daughter’s life choices have to do with his character or personal integrity? Obviously Dick Cheney has a gay daughter so Repubz love the gayz!

          • Steglitz49

            Diane (DeeG) “was not impressed by Bobby’s one-sided, erroneous, male-centric, out-dated view of her life”. All I did was to keep her right.

            Not all males are like what she describes and fears. More to the point, 95% of people are straight so capturing 6% of those is already more than the others.

        • SpiritFan80

          Won’t it be something when Bobby’s daughter grows up to be a lady-loving liberal Democrat? Lol.

          • 🙂 I doubt Bobby actually has a daughter. People like him love to use “think about the children!” as an excuse for their bigotry.

      • guest

        Please tell me this is sarcasm. And, as far as I know, LGBT issues don’t come up much during soccer games themselves and it shouldn’t be too difficult to explain to a child that a woman and a woman can love each other.

        • Steglitz49

          Why bother when the probabilities that his daughter is straigt is like 19:1.

          • guest

            He specifically said his daughter asked what LGBT was you annoying troll

          • Steglitz49

            While he is at it he can explain what DDR and CCCP stood for, not to forget IBU and IOY.

      • TsovLoj

        Gay and trans people are not a hard concept. You’ve explained this to her more than once? Did one of you get shaken real hard as a baby?

        • Steglitz49

          5% is 5% and neither 95% nor even 59%

      • Lorehead

        This valentine’s day, I’d like you to consider what it would feel like if you, and all other straight people, could not talk about their husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, or their romantic feelings at all. Imagine if you and every other straight person had to stay in the closet, because being reminded you exist offends a few people. I bet you would not find that a reasonable thing to ask.

        If your daughter is L, B or T, then she absolutely will need to know that there are other people out there like her, and that it’s okay for her to feel that way.

        • Steglitz49

          I took his message to be that 4% of 95% is more than 70% of 5%.

          If you want to build the NWSL you must analyze your market, segment it and grow at the easiest points. It could be that that point is senior citizens. We don’t know.

          Given the population of the US, there are enough LGBT people to fill the stands of the NWSL. Thus, an obvious corollary is, seeing that there are not 40,000 at each NWSL game, the LGBT don’t seem terribly interested in WoSo.

          One has to admire Pinoe. She got to play in OG-16 and now features in a nationwide ad by Nike. She sloped off to Lyon for the first half of the inaugural NWSL season. Only ARod has played her cards with greater skill.

          • rkmid71

            I’m not sure getting to play in OG16 was such a feather in her cap. It’s hard to admire Pinoe after that debacle. For me, the lack of integrity takes away from whatever statement she’s trying to make with Nike “Equality” campaign. As I understand it, Nike is encouraging people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field. Fairness and respect, Rapinoe and OG do not seem a good match. I think Rapinoe has some work to do to earn that back. It’s interesting that ARod rostered for SBC. That wasn’t required by CBA, just camp invite. Maybe JE is changing her views on ARod or just likes having that add’l veteran presence?

          • Steglitz49

            ARod is good PR. Mother of two sons and a Hispanic name to boot. Mega.

        • I know I’m super late to the party on this thread, but I would just like to add that isn’t even about the risk of offending people. In half the country you can be fired for no other reason than being LGBT. I have many friends who have to remain completely closeted at work for fear of losing their job. In over half the country LGBT people are subject to housing discrimination and it is perfectly legal.

          Normal things that straight people talk about at work or in public with no thought to their safety, job status, income, etc are things that gay people have to keep hidden (dating, marriage, home buying, family planning, etc).

      • Steglitz49

        Confess: your daughter prefers to watch Zlatan. She always did.

        • rkmid71

          Doesn’t everybody? As Zlatan says: “I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am.”

          • Steglitz49

            “Sometimes it is post-in and sometimes it is post-out”, Zlatan once mused thereby changing the language of honor and heroes forever.

    • guest

      “25 percent! of the league AND two board seats, how is it not scary ”
      Don’t understand your concern. They gave up the 25% stake too cheaply? What harm could A+E do with a 25% stake? If this partnership succeeds, everyone wins. If it fails, A+E just pissed their initial investment away, and we try something else.

      • Bruce

        If the partnership fails (and A+E has no experience or complimentary businesses to buffer against that) the NWSL is stuck with a media partner with an equity stake who could make it hard/difficult to grow the business through other channels.

        Does the agreement give A+E effective veto power over other distribution agreements after year three?

        Does the agreement hold A+E to minimum performance criteria (like premium game times and/or ratings?) Could they essentially run games at 9am on Sundays on LMN to cut losses and place league growth in purgatory if they wanted to?

        If A+E wants to cut their losses or exit, what happens to NWSL media and marketing? Will any NWSL employees or infrastructure remain or would the exit of A+E essentially require a reboot?

        Like Som has stated, there are *many* unanswered questions about this deal that define its worth. And no journalist seems to want to ask.

        It’s disingenuous or simply naive to paint this agreement as a slam-dunk win for the League. It’s a Hail Mary with an unproven partner that could likely lead to a crisis for the league in three years.

        • guest

          Yes yes yes yes. All of the above. I don’t understand how there are no women’s soccer journalists asking these questions. If this was any other sports league I think people would be aghast. Particularly: “If the partnership fails (and A+E has no experience or complimentary businesses to buffer against that) the NWSL is stuck with a media partner with an equity stake who could make it hard/difficult to grow the business through other channels.” It’s not like after 4 years their stake evaporates.

          • guest

            “[A]n equity stake who could make it hard/difficult to grow the business through other channels”
            I’m not an investment banker, but 25% doesn’t sound like a lot.

          • rkmid71

            Above the threshold to have significant influence and small enough not to be too exposed.

        • guest

          “Does the agreement give A+E effective veto power”
          I don’t know how a 25% stake would give them veto power.
          “Does the agreement hold A+E to minimum performance criteria ”
          My assumption (possibly naive) is that they want this to succeed and they’ll use their knowledge and expertise in broadcasting to try to do that.
          “If A+E wants to cut their losses or exit, what happens to NWSL media and marketing?”
          Like I said, A+E may lose their investment, but that won’t take anything away from the NWSL, and the NWSL is so poor in the first place, there’s probably nothing to take anyway.
          “a slam-dunk win for the League”
          I wouldn’t say it’s a slam-dunk, but I don’t think there’s much risk either. The worst that could happen is they go back to Youtube, and even if they did, they’d probably be carrying a lot of viewers they picked up from A+E.

  • guest

    Dan/EQ, another item for the “free kicks” section
    as announced on United Women’s Soccer web site ( http://www.uwssoccer.com )
    Calgary Granted Approval For UWS Expansion
    CALGARY, AB, CANADA – United Women’s Soccer (UWS) is excited to announce that Calgary Foothills Women’s F.C. will be competing in the West Conference for the Summer 2017 season. The team will be playing at the highest league level of any female team in Canada and will provide elite soccer development & training to the female players in the region. This initiative is part of the Foothills F.C. mandate to provide Calgary players further high level opportunity as has been illustrated by the Foothills Men’s PDL team which were the division and conference champions in 2016.

    The franchise has been approved by UWS and sanctioned by Alberta Soccer, Canada Soccer Association (CSA) and the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF).

    “We are excited to have Calgary join UWS,” said League Director Joe Ferrara, Jr. “In all my years as an administrator, I have seen many business plans and none have been more impressive than the one submitted by Foothills F.C. With its PDL men’s side, the organization has demonstrated that it is a professional operation on and off the field. Calgary Foothills will have the same positive impact on women’s soccer in North America.”

    • TsovLoj

      As a former Calgarian, this is fascinating to me. I don’t think it’s nearly enough of a soccer town or a women’s sports town for NWSL, though.

      • Steglitz49

        When I hear Calgary and sports, I think Hakan Loob.

        • TsovLoj

          Yeah, hockey is a religion for the Canadians.

  • Steglitz49

    It would be interesting to learn exactly how Betos moving to Norway came about. Granted, her Norwegian team is in a pleasant inner suburb of Oslo, the capital, so it is not in the back and beyonds or, even, Lillehammer.

    But, what was the trigger? Why Norway? etc — standard questions for a journalist.

  • AlexH

    I think the movement of players to Europe is only good. It sends a message that the players are not livestock and can freely move to greener pastures. I can think of no better incentive for NWSL, USSF and all the other soccer pooh-bahs to get their act together.

    • ARED

      I agree, it is best and fair to let the market run freely and players/clubs/consumers/etc all can decide what is best for themselves or what they want to support. But the risk with this is that you may see clubs or leagues fold if the market will not support them (and their subsidies run out, which is really what is supporting almost all of professional WoSo I believe).

      But, as sad as that may be, it would not be unjust.

      • Silver Frost

        Your model guarantees failure of NWSL. Then woso in America is back to amateurs only status, and failure in WC and OG.

        • ARED

          I’m not sure if you are critiquing “my” model -which is actually just an explanation of the market -or just saying you wouldn’t like the result if it were left to the individuals to make their own choices?

          I said it clearly -clubs and leagues may fold without subsidies, and many would not like this. But does anyone have a right to exist even if the market won’t support their offered product?

          I was not taking the position of US Soccer -if I were Gulati, I would emphasize growing NWSL and in fact would have tried much harder to grow the league in these early years with more support in subsidies, marketing, and organization. But I admit I can be biased to view things from the player’s mindset, and I do not like forcing players to play where you tell them -even though I accept that it may be necessary in these early NWSL days. So, “best and fair” to let everyone do what they want. But if you don’t think you can make NWSL attractive on it’s own, you may choose to “set the market” and hope you can get a result you like better. France does it one way, USA another. We’ll see how long these subsidies are needed/offered.

      • Steglitz49

        When male clubs with as much money as Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Lyon, Man City, PSG and Wolfsburg, to mention only 8, are prepared to spend on their ladies, there is no longer a level playing field.

        The US approach with team salary ceilings etc, attempts to avoid such biased situations.

        • ARED

          Yes, although with NWSL I think it is more about a lack of money to begin with than a ceiling to keep the clubs equal.

          MLS learned it had to allow clubs to break the ceiling to bring in big players for the long-term good of the league, and there were enough clubs able and ready to do so that it has worked quite well. But I don’t know that NWSL has that luxury.

          A level playing field has some merits, just as a free market system has others. I’m not sure WoSo is able to choose between the two since they are still just desperate to survive -and that is the point I making.

    • guest

      but then again, it is the ussf, not you that is paying six figure guaranteed salaries to the uswnt players and making a six figure investment in the nwsl. the ussf should drop guaranteed salaries and only give uswnt pay to play bonuses just like the usmnt. then players can earn salaries from whatever club they like.

      • guest

        then the uswnt will be free to move on to greener pastures of players as well when they want to instead of being stuck with non-producing fifteen year veterans.

      • AlexH

        You may be right. I have no answers but it is good to know that the players have options.

  • Bruce

    Orlando just traded away another 2018 draft pick (its last?) for an international slot from CRS. Chicago now has EIGHT picks filed away for next season.

    No words.

    http://www.excellesports.com/news/orlando-pride-international-spot-chicago/

    • Steglitz49

      When there is no relegation, you can plan for the long term.

    • Breakers fan

      No words to express how happy you are I’m thinking. Correct?

      • Bruce

        Really no words for Orlando.

        Is Sermanni thinking that he’s one player away from winning a championship?

        IMHO – it seem like he’s selling out the future so the Pride can finish in 7th place.

        • Breakers fan

          I guess I’d respond by saying if he has a particular international earmarked who he’s talked with and who he reasonably feels is a better bet than an unknown second-round pick – someone maybe he feels confident he can get to return for a few years then the move would be understandable. But if he’s just hoping he can find a good int’l or if who he gets comes for a year then doesn’t return I would say you’re right. We’ll see.

          • ARED

            I haven’t seen Sermanni’s moves lately, but in general I believe that a strong established player is clearly better than the average player from the NWSL draft. Yes you can find good players, especially at the top, but even still they may need time to grow. I think it has much bigger impact to bring is say Caitlin Foord or Nadia Nadim than most top picks we’ve seen from the drafts.

            I would assume he has a plan, although it may be for a more modest player than those mentioned. Still, a solid player now is probably better than a player next year who won’t be at that same solid level for another year or two.

  • Ron Rocha

    …Updated story: Carli Lloyd signs with Manchester City, will play there until June http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/thegoalkeeper/Carli-Lloyd-gets-contract-offer-from-Manchester-City-is-likely-to-accept-it.html … via @phillysport

    • guest

      Interesting… so I guess the reports that she was going back to the Dash are accurate?

    • guest

      does this mean players that come back to the nwsl mid-season would get a partial nwsl salary or do they get the full thing even if they miss part of the season.?

      • g2

        In the past (Heath, Rapinoe, etc) the NWSL allocation portion of USWNT players has been pro-rated (reduced) when they only played for part of the NWSL season.

  • The Oracle

    https://twitter.com/WoSoComps/status/831633826631778304

    Eventually you are going to see Americans head to China. It going to happen soon.

    • guest

      it is only two teams in china that are offering that.

      • Steglitz49

        sounds like France

    • USMNTfan4life

      I can see male internationals heading to China (obscene money), but female internationals? There is no money in that, so I am not sure that would happen.

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      • guest

        Women internationals are also being signed to play for clubs in China
        from BCC.com sports section published 15 Feb 2017

        Nigeria winger Asisat Oshoala has left Women’s Super League One club Arsenal Ladies to join Chinese side Dalian Quanjian.
        The 22-year-old won the BBC’s Women’s Footballer of the Year Award in 2015 before joining Arsenal from Liverpool.
        She helped the Gunners win the Women’s FA Cup at Wembley in May 2016 and was recently awarded the African Women’s Player of the Year Award.
        She also played for her country at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

      • ARED

        But isn’t this report saying Cristiane will be the highest paid player in the world in China? That suggests there is money there, and in fact it makes more sense for women to follow it because: A) They make less in general than the men, usually by a lot, and B) They have less stability and prestige at the “traditional” leagues and clubs.

        It’s a bit bold to leave Bayern Munich for China to make 12 million instead of 7 million. But for a women to leave Seattle Reign or “Western New York” for China to go from maybe $50,000/year to $100,000/year would be a much bigger appeal. (I speculate on the money, I do not know much about the offer for Cristiane).

        But I don’t think too many Americans would go, and also I think the Chinese may begin to slow down their over-spending before long from what I have heard.

        • Steglitz49

          It is a dictatorship however you look at it. Mind you, US WNBA players have been keen to take rubels from Putin’s cronies. By their fruit ye shall know them.

          • ARED

            Yes. I have been critical of people taking money from what I consider corrupt or questionable sources myself, but I am not sure about the Chinese money to say that is the case. Of course in some ways perhaps, but unfortunately global football has sold itself more and more to the highest bidder, regardless of where the money comes from. Europe is full of foreign money, some legitimate and some with a lot of doubts.

            I know players who will ignore the lure of “more” to hold their values and beliefs, and admire this. Some clubs as well, although they suffer and eventually can even drop from the picture if they do it. Very sad, I believe. Even a big club like Arsenal has not recovered from the ground they lost. Their crime? Trying to maintain a budget, and not selling to questionable investors.

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  • kernel_thai

    OK, Im confused about the CBA. Ive been given the impression that both sides have agreed to continue on under the terms of the previous MOU while negotiations continue…ie the NT players r getting paid and they r going to work. If that’s the case I don’t see why the players aren’t being allocated and apparently won’t be paid for their NWSL work unless there is a new CBA. Has management drawn the line here? If so this is just another example of USSF only caring about the NWSL when it suits them. Does the union care about this? The PA also seems to only think the league is important when it is in their best interest. The NWSL continues life as the red headed step child.

    • Steglitz49

      The purpose of the NWSL is to fulfill the unwritten FIFA rule that a nation must have a pro-league to be allowed to play in the WC. The NWSL covers not only the US but also Canada and Mexico. What happens in the NWSL, stays in the NWSL.

    • guest

      “[P]layers aren’t being allocated and apparently won’t be paid for their NWSL work unless there is a new CBA”
      What makes you think this? You think US Soccer is abandoning its commitment to the NWSL? Why would they do that?

    • I think as long as there isn’t a CBA in place the possibility remains that players could strike and not play at the start of the NWSL season.