WPS suspends 2012 season

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Another milestone was achieved this past weekend for women's professional soccer in the United States, as the U.S. women's national team qualified for the Olympics.

Unfortunately for the players, they might not have a domestic season in which to prepare for the Summer Games.

The owners of the five Women's Professional Soccer teams decided to suspend the 2012 season on Monday morning. The decision appears to have been made in part because of the legal preceedings with former MagicJack owner Dan Borislow.

"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 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."

The decision to cancel the season is a crushing blow for WPS, which received provisional sanctioning for a 2012 season from the U.S. Soccer Federation a few weeks ago.

What do you make of this development?

Share your thoughts below.

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51 Responses to WPS suspends 2012 season

  1. leftcoastmetro says:


  2. Dillon says:

    It is a shame to say, but it just does not seem possible to create a sustainable women’s sports league.

  3. timmytwoshoezzz says:


  4. Poo says:

    WNBA has some history, but is that just propped up by NBA?

  5. TYOB says:

    Borislow is scum!

  6. irishapple21 says:

    If WPS really wants to survive, they should team up with MLS. MLS knows how to make soccer work in the USA and WPS could use that proven experience.

  7. PDX Tom says:

    I don’t know, the WNBA has been running for what 15+ years now. Granted it is subsidized by the NBA but at least some of the teams are profitable. Stern said that in the lousy economy the WNBA was more profitable than the NBA. Would MLS be willing to take on a women’s league and help it find a footing? With so many teams owning/controlling their own stadiums now that would help to reduce costs and you could share staff.

  8. PDX Tom says:

    That was meant to be in reply to Dillon who said: “It is a shame to say, but it just does not seem possible to create a sustainable women’s sports league.”

  9. need2 know says:

    WPS was the best women’s league in the world. Now it falls to Sweden/Germany. Damn. I hope it returns in 2013 or 14 with more teams. Needs at least 10-12 to turn a profit and be a proper league. My 4 year old niece is excited in soccer, who knows maybe 15 years she might wanna pursue the game, but it won’t mean anything if there is no league.

  10. Rory says:

    WNBA capitolizes on big network support and runs during a time when diehard basketball junkies have no other source of basketball.

    I am a big soccer fan. A huge MLS fan, a fan of the women’s national team (although I don’t watch them until the knockout rounds)…

    I would never, ever watch a WPS legue match or attend a game. I have paid once for women’s soccer and that was in 2000 to see the greats of US soccer back then… probably wouldn’t bother to go see the women’s team again.

    My point is not to hate, but say on paper I am supposed to be someone the WPS should be going after to be a fan, and yet, I feel nothing for them and am not bothered one bit by their league collapsing. Marketing failure?

  11. Rory says:

    Uh, no. I don’t want WPS dragging MLS down financially. MLS isn’t really working as is and the only thing keeping it a float currently is the expansion fee money.

  12. rory says:

    How long until we see a MLS team take a flier and bring in one of the ladies for a trial? None of them could be worse than Ocho Cinco, although I doubt any would make a team for anything other than publicity purposes.

  13. PetedeLA says:

    They’d save a ton of money by making it two regional leagues.

    On the west side there could be an LA team, a bay area team, a Pacific Northwest team, maybe Arizona, and a team in Texas.

    The eastern side could have its own league.

    Then have a “superbowl” with the best teams of both regions.

    10 teams playing on college campuses instead of stadiums would be the way to go, I think.

    Charge 10-18 bucks for a normal seat. Rent a mobile VIP lounge spot for the prawn sandwich brigade to spend more money.

    Get good sponsors.

    That should work.

    But what do I know?

  14. Joamiq says:

    What terrible news…

  15. tcp says:

    magic jack off

  16. Kyle B. says:

    Maybe MLS teams should get ladies squads, like how the Premier League does. I think it’d be pretty interesting.

  17. happyjuggler0 says:

    Considering how few games made it onto tv, I am not surprised. Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Soccer Plus deserves some credit for at least showing one game per week, but the reality is that each game should have been shown, even if it had to be during normal sleeping hours.

    The game needs to be on tv to survive long enough to become popular enough for it to be sustainable. If even a dedicated soccer channel duo can’t justify showing the games on its second channel, there doesn’t seem much hope for a long time to come.

    The only way I see it happening in the future is if MLS attracts more and more US sports fans to the game, and the women use that as a base to start up a league again. Unfortunately that may be a while….

    P.S. I hope that the top US women can financially justify to themselves to continue playing the game via the European leagues and from national team play instead of pursuing other careers.

  18. The Imperative Voice says:

    Arguably so. The Houston Comets dominated the WNBA but by 2008 were folded.

    I don’t think it helps that most sports teams these days seem to be run as an independent revenue unit rather than a conglomerate tax loss or civic service. Kind of like how IMO movies are dominated by the bottom line now, because the conglomerates expect the studio to make money and not just be offset by some profitable part of the business.

    I say this because a lot of the European teams have hanger-on women’s teams also, Arsenal, Chelsea, etc. For teams like Seattle likely making money hand over fist, maybe they could provide a women’s team as a civic service, not unlike an Academy?

    That being said, I think they had a good geography at the end, clustering the teams together in one region of the country. I don’t think we have the attendance to support a national league or even very good salaries. We’d probably be better off for women’s soccer with several regional leagues than imitating MLS, which was lucky to escape its own infancy.

  19. The Imperative Voice says:

    Put differently, something more like the PDL or WPSL. Of course at that level of sophistication and salary you probably lose some of the elite back to Europe. But better a sustainable something than an ambitious nothing.

  20. The Imperative Voice says:

    Yeah but the WNBA historically paid/pays low salaries and in fact is, for many elite players, really like their offseason league between European seasons. Dirty little secret. For example, Taurasi plays for Galatasaray, then Phoenix in the summer. It’s kind of like the Indian Premier League for cricket and soccer, a quick burst season. We think about the NBA as big dog globally so much we don’t quite realize the WNBA may be more prosaic.

    I kind of agree with what I see as the loss-leader idea of having a woman’s team also but only a few MLS teams like Seattle have the cash to do it probably. But long term yeah we have the stadiums and in many places probably even can use another tenant to help fill them the umpteen days men’s soccer is not going. But some of the more broke MLS teams probably couldn’t afford it.

  21. Mark says:

    You have facts to back up those statements Rory? I think that may have been true a few years ago, but with many teams having their own stadiums, and in turn owning all related revenue streams, the Adidas contract, the new TV contract, it all adds up to a league that is much more financially secure than ever.

    Does that mean they’re in the clear? Probably not, as they need to continue to be smart with their investments, but things seems to be going in the right direction.

  22. HoBo says:

    why not have MLS teams have a women’s team under the same name. the infrastructure is already there, I think the EPL has something similar to this. Our Women’s national team needs a league to play in

  23. RK says:

    Huh? WPS is a money-loser. Women’s sports is a money-loser.

  24. RK says:

    It would work for minor league soccer, too, but they are too stubborn to do the smart thing.

  25. cowtown says:

    The only way Women’s Pro Soccer is going to work is in partnership with MLS, but, importantly, it must be as an outgrowth of the ACADEMIES. Players’ salaries will have to be based in large part on the women’s abilities to coach and/or attract DUES-PAYING players on the MLS academies’ girls club setup.

    Participating in marketing the clubs as a whole and bringing publicity by winning trophies and getting USWNT callups are important, but on their own, secondary, factors. If the league is successful for its own sake, then we can move back to a model where players are paid solely by what they bring to the field themselves.

    Until then, you have to assume that a women’s senior team would be a cost center, not a profit center, to be justified by the benefits it provides to the organization as a whole.

  26. Frank says:

    They need to sit down with the NCAA and allow college players to play alongside professional players. In other words, they need to find a way to create a semipro league with limited travel (i.e., regional leagues). The idea to take advantage of exisiting soccer infrastructure probably won’t work–I think you’ll need to find markets that do not already have any other pro teams.

  27. RK says:

    Well, the women’s version of the EPL just debuted; it was less organized until now. And, ironically, there is no promotion/relegation.

    Most leagues have women’s leagues (they are sporting clubs, after all) but there’s a reason you don’t hear about Atletico Madrid’s women’s team.

  28. WendellGee says:

    When Taurasi and Sue Bird were playing in Russia their salaries in Russia were literally in excess of 10X their WNBA salaries.

  29. Eric says:

    Honestly, it would bring more negative publicity than positive if someone decides to give a female player a trial. There’s been several articles written about this, mostly with writers talking about Hope Solo after the world cup, if you’re curious. I can find a couple if you want.

  30. Dax says:


    The NBA builds in the media contracts for the WNBA, and most of the WNBA corporate sponsors obtain impressions across all NBA assets. The only major revenue source that isn’t directly connected is gate revenue (avg att is 8,100).

  31. Mike O says:

    I think the regional idea is going to be necessary for any women’s league moving forward. Given the size of the U.S. I’m surprised that’s not a more common alignment. “Getting good sponsors” is easier said than done. Also, getting a “VIP” lounge assumes that there’s enough inherent demand for companies or individuals with money to rent them out. Obviously thinking regionally and building organically with solid ownership and investment is the only real way forward. I think women’s soccer will eventually catch on. It just may take another failed league or two before it takes off.

  32. JoeW says:

    First, WSJ did a terrific in-depth article about the culture of women’s pro sports in the US. The quick summary is: women aren’t the kind of fans that men are. Women (generally speaking) go to sporting events mostly b/c it’s a group going or to be with friends. You don’t see women stay home to see the game at home, alone. WUSA and WPS actually were okay at drawing men. But there were a couple of basic problems both leagues had:
    –female youth players stopped be fans as they got older. Obviously there are exceptions but unlike with male youth players, for females at a certain age it stopped being “cool” to be a fan or idolize Mia Hamm.
    –Corporate sponsors didn’t step up.
    –Adult women didn’t go (unless their kids wanted to go, or the family was going, or they were a coach and they brought their team, or they had family on the team or they were a really serious diehard soccer player/fan).

    The second issue (corporate sponsors) can change with better planning and a better economy. The first issue takes time (just as it did with NASL where Woosnam and Toye thought all the youth players would be fans in 8 years when they turned 18–wrong), but especially for girls. For the third issue, that’s a cultural issue.

    And no, it’s not specific to soccer. WNBA continues to struggle. It makes it b/c the NBA subsidizes the league which has empty venues to fill (the counterpart would be MLS teams fielding WMLS teams when the SSS were empty…Nov-March). Professional softball went belly-up a couple of years ago.

    To be successful at women’s professional sports, you need to assume that women won’t be the majority of your fan base (at least for the next 15-20 years). That’s a very tough business model to make work.

  33. BB says:

    It’s sad but really means that women’s pro soccer just isn’t viable in its current form. If they can’t get some interest after a great World Cup run then there is no hope for a league based on its current economics.

    What would be great would be if MLS teams could have a “W league” or something where they play in their Soccer Specific Stadiums on off-days and bring in some revenue for the teams. Growing from a ground-up league with MLS umbrella might be more sustainable.

  34. RK says:

    There are still costs associated with “opening up” the satdium that may render a sparsely-attended match a loss in the profit column.

  35. Gnarls says:

    It looks like the USL W-League already has the infrastructure in place to have professional women’s soccer on a regional level. There are more teams, and several with MLS affiliation. Why don’t the WPS teams join their respective regional W-Leagues?

  36. agnigrin says:

    No damn Dan Borislow! This self-righteous a** ruined the league!

  37. J says:

    people are actually surprised this happened? wow.

  38. PDX Tom says:

    Interesting, I didn’t know that about WNBA salaries.

    Not every MLS team would have to take on a womens team in order for the league to survive. WPS never had more than 6 teams. Just off the top of my head heres some teams that could support a womens team based on stadium situation and a decent cash flow:

    Seattle (@ Starfire probably)
    Vancouver (do they still control Swangard?)
    Dallas (women’s soccer plays with soccer moms and that stadium is a money maker)
    SKC (new stadium seems to be good from a financial standpoint)

    So there is 10 that are in at least decent shape. Pick 6 and you’ve got a league. You could also team up with Div 2/3 teams like Rochester who I believe has a very successful womens team. It could work.

  39. SmalltownIL says:

    DUES-PAYING is the problem part of your proposal. the real hinderance for growth – on both men’s and women’s sides – is the pay to play aspect. I see this effect even at our local level where some of our players don’t get involved in the indoor season due to the costs. My son is a decent high school player but I can’t justify the costs of the local club team ($1000 plus for a season). Simply put, the US misses out on some very good talent because those kids can’t afford to get into the game.

    Otherwise, I think you’re right on. Coordinating an area’s MLS team with a women’s pro team, and having affiliated academies for each side, would be outstanding. The NBA/WNBA situation is a good example (although even there, the men’s side treated the W less than ideally) and now many of the WNBA have separate from NBA ownership.

    to an early poster – why wouldn’t you go to a women’s game? soccer is soccer, enjoy every game for what it is.

  40. Eric says:

    I’m not sensing surprise as much as disappointment. It’s depressing to see a professional soccer league of such high quality go down the drain.

  41. gertie says:

    I watched this weeks Olympic qualifier and it made me hate the game.
    The caliber was just pathetic and even the better teams like Canada were clueless (seriously, did you see some of the beast Canada uses? our outside players looked like wingers and their defencemen looekd like linebacker or a Williams ‘sister’) and just plain outclassed.

    Im sticking to watching the last 2-3 rounds of major tournaments only from now on when it comes to women.

    And I say that as guy who watches women’s handball, basketball and even volleyball (ok the last one is for the girls) so its not a ‘all girls sport suxs’ thing.

  42. Answer says:

    Girls youth soccer and the academy setup currently seen with the USSF DA will never happen. Girls don’t strive to be professional soccer players and have no incentive to find the top academies in their area. Even the best youth female players rarely leave one good team for another, slightly better, team. They are more loyal to teammates and coaches than their male counterparts who are so often (misguidedly) chasing a professional dream.

    Girls youth players are chasing scholarships, not professional jobs. They don’t need an academy setup to get those scholarships.

  43. irishapple21 says:

    “Defencemen”? What sport were you watching again?

  44. Mark says:

    RK, I agree in regards to WPS, and to a lesser extent to women pro sports in general, but Rory’s comment was regarding MLS taking on women’s soccer. “…it really isn’t working as is and that the only thing keeping it afloat is expansion fees.” My point is I don’t think that’s an accurate statement about MLS and the viability of the league.

    I think it’d be great of MLS could field women’s teams, but I think that is years away as MLS still does have plenty of work to do to boost soccer in this country and ensure that ALL it’s teams are profitable and we’re getting the TV ratings required .

  45. PaulTheOctopus says:

    I hope the best for them, really.

    If I had daughters i’d take them to go see WPS games. But as a “normal” guy, there’s no way i’d go see a game, sorry.

  46. gandhi says:

    why werent they in big markets from old wusa days? like san diego which had very good attendance and tv ratings. the sport is actually very popular in the US when its at the international level. so why couldnt WPS replicate that at all cost? 4 possible USA national-aligned teams seemed feasible- NY, Atl, etc, etc., with a Brazilian-heavy squad in Miami that would play some in Brazil itself. Likewise for San Diego stocked with Mexican players. Throw in Toronto, and have a shortened schedule, with the 2nd of the year being a tournament with top European & Japanese teams

  47. TTP says:

    It is a shame. I only wish I had a team in my area to take my daughter to to feed her growing love for the game. Now no one does.
    Any one who post anything negative or smart A$$ about this just a wart on this planets A$$.

  48. Gazza says:

    All the WPS needs is Pro/Rel!!
    Just ask Tinfoil Teddy and his army. Pro/Rel solves everything.

  49. gandhi says:

    only way it will ever come back will be if MLS moves to international calendar, then the summer would be available to the women. in other words, the women could do well as long as they didnt play while the men were playing. isnt that essentially the scenario of the WNBA?

  50. atletico man says:

    Although the league folding made the Spanish sports press this morning, with two articles in AS for example: link to as.com