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Atlanta Beat and WPS Suspend 2012 Season

In what was shaping up the be one of the most promising seasons and competitive teams the Beat had put on the field in recent years everything crashed to a grinding halt.  On Monday, January 30th 2012 the league issued a statement to suspend the 2012 season citing the pending legal issues with former magicJack team owner Dan Borislow.  If you are unfamiliar with the situation you can find out more by reading Beau Dure’s piece at espnW here.

Borislow was seen by many, including himself, to be the savior to the struggling league when at the 11th hour he stepped in and committed to field a team for the 2011 season.  Perhaps it was in this haste that the other team owners and league officials didn’t realize the type of person they were dealing with in Borislow.  They soon found out as the narcissistic owner didn’t comply with several league requirements and even had a grievance filed by players and the WPS Players Union to the league for violations of the Standard Player Contract Provision, the FIFA Code of Ethics, WPS Media Policy and U.S. Soccer Federation Coaching Requirements.

It’s unfortunate that the situation has reached this point but perhaps the WPS can settle these matters and use this time to strengthen the league and seek out additional owners for the 2013 season.  However, if things go against the owners in the legal matters I would imagine the WPS will fold and possibly see the teams join other leagues or create a new league, perhaps with a single entity plan similar to Major League Soccer.  Many potential owners have backed away from investing in the league because of it’s current structure.

The only solace fans can take is that with the USWNT winning the CONCACAF qualifying tournament they will be a part of the 2012 London Summer Olympics which will run between July 25th and August 9th.  Because of the Olympics and the reduction in number of teams to 5 the 2012 WPS season was going to be shortest season thus far. With pre-olympic camps the USWNT players would likely only have played 9 or 10 games this season with their club teams. If you want to see women’s soccer in person you can still check out the 2011 USL W-League champion Atlanta Silverbacks.  In addition to the men’s team they also field a women’s team that consistently is in contention for the championship.  Their season traditionally runs from May through July.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 30, 2012) – Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) announced today that its Board of Governors has voted to suspend the 2012 season to permit the League to focus on the resolution of certain pending legal issues and the challenges that now face the League as a result of its ongoing dispute with a former owner.

“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 Board voted on Monday morning to suspend the 2012 season. Over the last year the league has faced significant challenges, including a lengthy and expensive legal battle with a former owner. The litigation has diverted resources from investment in the league and has forced the Board to take action, suspending the 2012 season in order to address the legal issues head‐on before moving forward with competition.

“We firmly believe there is a place in the global sports landscape for Women’s Professional Soccer,” said WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan. “Making the decision to suspend the 2012 season was a difficult and painful one, but it is necessary to take the time to address current issues and solidify our business in order to provide appropriate support needed to achieve the League’s long‐term goals. Those that take part in our League ‐ players, partners and fans ‐ deserve the best, and that is what we are taking the time to ensure we deliver when we resume play in 2013 and beyond.”

WPS has established its plans to return to play in 2013, and all five owners of the League’s existing teams ‐ Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence, Sky Blue FC and Western New York Flash ‐ will remain active with the CEO, Jennifer O’Sullivan, in the governance of WPS throughout the current year.

“We are deeply grateful to our fans and partners for the tremendous support they have shown for WPS, our players and the sport,” added O’Sullivan. “With our supporters and athletes in mind, we are committed to complete the hard work necessary to resume play in 2013 and reestablish WPS as the premiere women’s professional soccer league in the world.”

So what are your thoughts concerning the 2012 season being suspended? Do you think the WPS will be back in 2013?


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