Merritt Paulson introduced his intention to promote the Portland Thorns on Thursday, clearing a pathway to ending what has been a tenure that in some ways, good and dangerous, has outlined the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League.
Paulson, in an extended message distributed by electronic mail, detailed his causes for promoting the Thorns, however not the Timbers.
“The Portland Thorns are particular. They imply rather a lot to me. They imply rather a lot to the Metropolis of Portland. They imply an unimaginable quantity to ladies’s sports activities globally.
“The earlier iterations of top-flight American ladies’s skilled leagues had not made it previous three years, and once I determined to hitch the newly fashioned NWSL in 2013, I had no illusions that it will be straightforward. But I believed in ladies’s soccer, and I believed we might create one thing in Portland that had by no means been executed earlier than.
“At each step of the best way, the Portland Thorns exceeded expectations. Our success on and off the pitch garnered world consideration, however the work that was executed on the league degree, in some ways has been probably the most impactful in sustaining the NWSL to its place of development and success in the present day.
“The Portland Thorns are the primary three-time NWSL Champions, and since 2013 have been breaking attendance data. The Membership has been on the forefront of constructing what ladies’s soccer has turn out to be on this nation and the world.
“The previous yr has been a difficult one for our Membership and our gamers. I remorse the position our group performed within the failures recognized by the investigations. Regardless of these challenges, the Portland Thorns have a brilliant future forward and rather a lot left to perform.
“To completely notice that potential, I imagine it’s in finest curiosity of the Thorns to have a brand new proprietor in order that the Membership can function on the league degree with a contemporary voice to be a driving pressure for the NWSL. This has been a troublesome resolution for me, however I imagine that is one of the best ways to place the Thorns for continued success throughout this subsequent chapter of the NWSL and the game.
“We’re dedicated to proceed to work collaboratively with the NWSL to make sure we discover the fitting group to take the reins. We is not going to rush to a choice as we need to get it proper for our gamers, for Portland and for girls’s soccer.”
Notably, the announcement comes on the heels of Jeff Carlisle’s story at ESPN highlighting the investor group, led by Melanie Robust, which intends to bid $60 million for the Thorns alone. Such a price ticket would simply exceed the $35 million Michelle Kang paid for the Washington Spirit earlier this yr.
Paulson’s assertion continued: “An possession change with the Thorns is not going to affect Peregrine Sports activities’ possession of the Timbers, and we can be a key associate to the brand new Thorns possession group, as we imagine the group ought to proceed to name Windfall Park its house.
“I’m absolutely dedicated to doing all that’s mandatory to make sure a clean transition and the continued success of the Thorns, together with offering favorable utilization phrases for Windfall Park that can allow the Thorns to proceed to capitalize on their reputation in Portland. Moreover, in evaluating the brand new proprietor we need to make sure that our ongoing efforts to safe a top-flight coaching facility continues for the group.
“Lastly, I can be making a one-million-dollar pledge to establishing a NWSL Participant Security Workplace. I like Commissioner Berman’s imaginative and prescient and I’m proud to seed the founding capital for the challenge.”
The choice earned the reward of NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman, who informed OregonLive.com Thursday: ““I help Merritt Paulson’s resolution to promote the Thorns, his dedication to assist in a clean transition for a brand new possession group in Portland, and the $1 (million) contribution to the league,” NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman informed The Oregonian/OregonLive in a press release. “This cash can be used to launch a brand new NWSL Participant Security Division — popping out of this chapter within the NWSL’s historical past we’ll emerge stronger than ever earlier than and make this a league the gamers are proud to play in.”
Paulson’s exit, an try and shift concentrate on the team-building a part of his legacy with a monetary contribution as penance for his position within the abuse which came about below his possession with the Thorns, represents the least-messy doable exit for the NWSL from what had turn out to be an untenable scenario.
“I’m so pleased with what the Portland Thorns have completed,” Paulson stated. “I’ve had the honour to work alongside these unimaginable athletes as they’ve made historical past on and off the pitch. Whereas this resolution isn’t a straightforward one for me, I imagine it’s the proper one for the Membership, the league and Portland.”