The USL announced the Women’s Professional League to rival the NWSL; Tim Tebow is among the team’s planned owners

right arrow

The USL Super League intends to apply to US Soccer for Division I sanctions by September 1, 2023, it announced Tuesday.

This is a change from the league’s previous announcement in 2021 of the Super League You will apply to punish the second section With an intention to launch in 2023 – now delayed to 2024. The Premier League hopes to launch in a 10-12 team league format next year, although it has eight primary markets at the time of news release, with more to be announced in the months coming.

Initial markets for the 2024 season

city owner (owner) stadium

Charlotte, NC

Jim McVilliamy

American Legion Memorial Stadium

Dallas/Forth Worth, Texas

Neil’s family

to be announced later on

Lexington, Kentucky.

Bill Shifley, Donna Shifley, Stephen Dwahry

The W League team is currently at Toyota Stadium, future stadium plans are underway

Phoenix, Ariz.

Phoenix Rising FC ownership group

Phoenix Rising FC Stadium

Spokane, Wash.

Aequus Sports, LLC (Katie Harnetiaux and Ryan Harnetiaux)

The stadium is currently under construction, and is scheduled to open in fall 2023

Tampa Bay, Florida.

Daryl Shaw, David Laxer, Jeff Fox

Explore locations of temporary stadiums, and planned future stadiums

Tucson, Arizona.

John Perlman, Jeff Arnold

to be announced later on

Washington, DC

Attain Sports and Entertainment (Greg Baroni), in partnership with DC United

to be announced later on

Four more cities are also supposed to join in later seasons (listed along with the property):

  • Chattanooga, Tenn. – Bob Martino
  • Indianapolis – Indy Eleven Founder and Chairman Ersal Ozdemir and CEO Greg Stremlaw
  • JACKSONVILLE, FL – Tim Tebow, Ricky Caplin, Tony Allegretti, Steve Livingston
  • Madison, Wisconsin – Forward Madison Property Collection
  • Oakland, CA – Ownership of Oakland Roots and Oakland Soul

“The Premier League will sit at the top of the women’s pyramid with strong ownership groups, state-of-the-art stadiums, and passionate fans that will provide immediate viability and long-term sustainability,” USL CEO Alik Papadakis said in a statement to the league.

Men’s clubs in the USL that will have a Women’s Super League team include Lexington SC, Phoenix Rising FC, FC Tucson, Chattanooga Red Wolves SC, Oakland Roots, and Forward Madison.

Premier League President Amanda Vandervoort said the athlete That the decision to resort to sanctioning a DI instead of the originally planned DII “has been in discussion for a long time,” though she declined to say whether the delay from 2023 to 2024 was related to that conversation.

Vandervort said that in pushing the league’s original ad, they had time for it Build more infrastructure under the Premier League In terms of creating the ‘pre-professional’ W League, which kicked off in 2022 with 44 clubs and will expand to 65 clubs in 2023, as well as their youth-to-pro pipeline and the launch of their girls’ academy in summer 2023.

When asked if the Premier League was confident it would have 10 to 12 teams ready for 2024, Vandervoort said “Absolutely”.

She added, “The standards at Division One level, we are confident that as a league we will meet those standards.” “And so the decision to go to Division I was something we made in conjunction with our ownership groups, but we feel very strongly that offering the highest standards of American soccer to the women who play in our league is not only our opportunity, but our responsibility, and we’re really excited about that.”

Per American football, a Division I women’s outdoor league It includes the following criteria:

  • At least eight teams to apply for penalties.
  • Teams must be in at least two time zones in year one, expanding to three time zones by year six (Easter, Central, and Pacific).
  • At least 75 percent of the league’s clubs must play in metropolitan markets with a population of at least 750,000.
  • The minimum stadium capacity is 5,000 seats.
  • Team ownership groups must show the financial ability to operate for three years.
  • One major team owner with at least a 35 percent stake in the team with an individual net worth of at least $15 million.
  • The ownership group must have a total net worth of at least $25 million.
  • The league shall have a full-time staff throughout the year including the Director of Operations, Director of Finance and Director of Marketing/PR.

What about NWSL?

There’s also the fact that any DI professional women’s league in the United States will inevitably draw comparisons to the NWSL, and perhaps even concerns that the market currently can’t keep up with the sudden influx of dozens of new professional teams. Vandervoort encouraged a more optimistic vision with which to view the current landscape of women’s professional football in this country, and said the market was currently strong enough to make the DI Premier League viable.

“The United States has 12 professional women’s teams, but has the same footprint and population as all of Europe, and has over 150 top-tier professional women’s teams,” Vandervoort noted.

This comparison is perhaps not entirely individual, as professional women’s teams in Europe operate in their own countries, where budgets may differ quite from the needs of a club in the much larger continental United States, and have different levels of popularity. . But given the USL’s experience in developing regional soccer imprints for both men and women, the comparison might also be appropriate.

The Premier League would also distinguish itself from the NWSL in at least two major ways: first, by aligning with the international calendar with a fall-to-summer schedule, as opposed to the NWSL which starts in the spring and finishes in late fall, and secondly by not having a collegiate draft.

The lack of a draft is in keeping with the USL’s inclusive ethos around developing youth pathways; In previous announcements about its girls’ academy, USL has said it will no longer use age ranges on its academy teams as part of the “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough” mentality. The NFL is starting to move more toward a similar mentality with recent signings like 15-year-old Melanie Parkenas for the San Diego Wave and 15-year-old Chloe Ricketts for the Washington Spirit, but 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson still has to get through. with the 2023 project (although it was clear that she would land in Los Angeles with Angel City as the number one).

Vandervort said the Super League intends to compete for players’ salaries (the current minimum salary in the NWSL is $36,400).

“We want to be competitive in the international market, in the American market,” she said. “The details of player compensation, player standards, all of those things, we’re excited to have those conversations with our ownership groups, with our players.”

Another encouraging factor, Vandervort said, is that the early 2023 attendance numbers for the USL W League have been strong, with over 5,800 for the Oakland Soul’s May 13 home debut and doubleheader with the Roots, and 4,743 for Detroit City’s home opener on May 13. May vs Flint City. Minnesota Aurora’s Marquee W League side had a strong presence last year compared to operating in a lower league. Aurora had multiple sell-outs in 2022including a full championship game in front of 6,200 fans and The average regular season attendance was 5,115.

Those numbers are comparable to or better than many NWSL teams in 2022, such as the North Carolina Courage, NJ/NY Gotham, and Orlando Pride, who have all averaged less than 5,000 for the season. However, the NWSL clearly wants to aim bigger, with first-year expansion teams San Diego Wave and Angel City averaging 8,792 and 19,105, respectively.

The Super League could find its own niche, aiming for a more comfortable average attendance and spending a little less than eye-watering stars. It reported $50 million plus expansion fees The NWSL is now demanding, and that appears to be reflected in the stadiums announced so far. American Legion Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 10,500, the new Phoenix Rising FC stadium has a capacity of 10,000 and Lexington Sporting Club’s current location, Toyota Stadium in Georgetown, has a capacity of 5,000.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in this country,” said Vandervoort, of concerns that two DI leagues could saturate a market that isn’t quite ready to expand that much so quickly, especially given the league’s history of collapse in the U.S. “I think ultimately we are.” We are bridging the opportunity gap, and it is our responsibility to do so at the highest level.”

USL has already partnered with international consulting firm Octagon to help manage its domestic media rights sales, as well as entertainment experience company Legends to support partnerships and commercial opportunities in stadiums. The league has also partnered with sports marketing agency Sportfive for international television and digital distribution. Octagon has, of course, previously worked with the NWSL on media rights, sponsorship valuation, branding and fan insights.

Media rights and their proper assessment is a big question at the moment not only for the NWSL but for women’s soccer globally. A good broadcast deal is key to helping bring about more financial stability, and Vandervort agreed that based on the talks so far, there is an appetite for more women’s sports.

“In our industry, we talk a lot about this upward movement of the commercialization and interest in women’s sports, but, you know, I can tell you it’s an insider having these conversations, it’s just right,” she said.

“I think we’ll see it from a commercial standpoint, from a fan standpoint, fan engagement off the charts. It’s been decades in the business to where we are today and the amazing people are investing their lives in this journey along the way. And I’m excited that we now have these ownership groups that are ready To invest at the levels they’re willing to invest. From building and upgrading fantastic stadiums across this country to really investing in the experience for both players and fans, I think it’s an amazing moment for women’s football.”

said an NWSL spokesperson athlete, “We welcome more opportunities for women to play professional soccer in the United States.”

required reading

(Photo: Eric Williams/USA Today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top