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Women's Major League Soccer to debut in 2011

Women's Major League SoccerGiven WPS’ offseason struggles, many have wondered aloud what a women’s league run by Major League Soccer would look like. The idea, some say, could be one that brings stability to professional women’s soccer in the United States. Frankly, Major League Soccer getting heavily involved in WPS is a pipe dream, but there is a new league – Women’s Major League Soccer – that at least provides the namesake.

WMLS will kick off in 2011 as a regional women’s soccer league with a completely different approach to the league model. The USL W-League and Women’s Premier Soccer League are well established as second division leagues and WMLS does not aim to challenge that. Not yet, at least.

Unlike the W-League and WPSL, Women’s Major League Soccer teams will not pay franchise fees or make any payments to the league. Instead, they will be rewarded with sponsorship money based on their finish in the table. Thus far there is about $50,000 in sponsorship money (half of which will be shared among teams), according to Shek Borkowski, the man behind WMLS and the head coach of FC Indiana, a founding team. It’s a revolutionary concept for women’s teams used to paying league fees on top of operational losses, some of which did so in the aforementioned established leagues.

WMLS will be regionally based out of the Midwest, which suddenly has a void that needs to be filled. W-League division restructuring – which is rumored to include a heavily expanded Western Conference – resulted in the Midwest Division dissolving for 2011. So, teams like the Cleveland Internationals, who formerly were part of the W-League, will take part in the inaugural season of WMLS in 2011. As of now, eight teams will participate in the inaugural campaign: Chicago Breeze, Cleveland Internationals, FC Indiana, Fort Wayne SC, Alliance FC, Louisville, Springfield Demize and South Bend WFC. The league could feature up to 14 teams in 2012.

Many teams will focus on bringing in local talent, while FC Indiana in particular is looking to attract international players.

WMLS will also differ from other American leagues in that it will feature an international model of scheduling. Each team will play one game per week for a total of 10-12 games and there will not be any playoffs. The winner at the end of the regular season – expected to run May 15 through July 31 – will be declared league champion. FIFA substitution rules will also be followed, so unlike the W-League and WPSL, there will not be unlimited substitutions.

In 2011, WMLS will very much be a test-run strictly in the Midwest. But should the model prove successful, WMLS could expand to greater heights in the future.

Check out the league’s Web site here, although it should be noted that it is currently just Greeked and does not yet include working hyperlinks.

Check out the league’s Web site here, although it should be noted that it is currently just Greeked and does not yet include working hyperlinks.

Posted By Jeff At 1/11/2011 12:29:37 AM

Labels: WMLS

Comments… read them below or post one

Jane said…

Uh, Jeff. In case you haven’t noticed, WPS pretty much is a regional league as well at this point. Just sayin’

Jeff said…

This is just a regional league right now, so comparing the WPS would not be just. It really is not quite fair to compare to W-League or WPSL either, to be honest, since its ambitions right now are not national. The MLS name/copyright issue could become very interesting. We’ll see what happens there. Kevin – good point, thanks for the note. I’ll correct the wording. I should have known to double check that from my W-League days.

Ray Orr said…

So… the teams “will be rewarded with sponsorship money based on their finish in the table” – am I reading correctly that there will be prize money awarded? Won’t that affect whether or not college players can play in this league? Its also very, very curious that FC Indiana is not playing in either the WPSL or the W-League… also, have to agree the sentiments regarding MLS’ thoughts about this league’s name… while, the Chicago team that played in the WPSL – KUFC in 2010, if what the WMLS site says is true about who owns/coaches the team – was pitiful to say the least.

MLS said…

How long until MLS takes legal action to prevent this league from using Major League Soccer in its name? I can’t believe they won’t. Kind of a stupid name anyway calling yourself major league when your league is about as minor league as they come.

James Ferragamo said…

Why the comparisons with the WPSL and w-league? They are using “Major League” soccer. Shouldn’t this league be compared with WPS?

StarCityFan said…

Substitutions in the W-League are not unlimited, just less limited: six versus the standard FIFA three..

Jeff said…

Definitely not FSC and probably not anywhere, to be honest. I would be surprised if anyone got to watch these games in a any way other than watching live, but maybe something will progress.

Melissa Salva said…

Probably a silly question, but will any of these league games be broadcast on cable, perhaps on FSC?


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