Soccerprose.com understands that the Women’s Professional Soccer League is to suspend operations for the 2012 season. A legal battle with owner Dan Borislow is being blamed and in an email to players the league said it “has diverted resources from investment in the league” & forced WPS to suspend season due to a lack of funds.
Dan Borislow, who is the owner of WPS team magicJack, had filed a lawsuit in a Florida court seeking to prevent, in the suit’s words, “the League’s threatened immediate termination of the Team as a League member” after their abysmal showing last year. The suit was made public a by the league and claimed Borislow was “asking a Florida court to bar the League from exercising its right to terminate his franchise at the end of the season for breach of his contractual obligations.” Obviously, its completely untenable for any league to operate without the ability to control what teams can play in it, and compel owners to follow those rules.
The battle between the league and Borislow has been well publicized with the owner feuding with the league over everything from game day scheduling to pitch side billboard, which Borislow complained were a rip off. After being fined draft picks, naming rights, and everything else under the disciplinary sun the WPS finally had enough and voted to terminate his franchise, and his ownership. At the time the suit was filed, Mark Washo, managing partner of sports agency Playbook Management International, said he hoped the dispute could be resolved and quickly.
“There [is] enough general interest in Women’s Soccer for WPS to capitalize on, to slowly build and grow a sustainable professional league,” Washo wrote in an email. “However, the ‘battle’ must be fought externally to win over fans, media, ticket buyers and sponsors. Therefore, the more time and energy WPS spends with internal issues, only detracts from the external efforts needed to continue to capitalize on the momentum of Women’s World Cup. I hope all sides can come together to work through the challenges, so the owners can be united in building the league these gifted athletes deserve to play in.”
Unfortunately, it seems the potential legal cost of fighting Borislow’s suit has sunk the whole league. We always knew the WPS had a small budget, and has been struggling, but the true story here may not be the lawsuit itself bringing down the league, but its own lack of success. A successful league, even one in its infancy, should easily be able to fend off a lawsuit from a disgruntled owner, and its unbelievable that the WPS cannot come up with the money to fight back. It may be that overspending on marketing, under-performing sponsorship contracts, and a lack of TV ad dollars have finally taken their toll, and while Borislow undoubtedly bears some of the blame here, it seems he’s only hammered the final nail into the coffin.
There may be someway back from the brink for the league, and it remains to be seen how all this plays out, but it seems one way or another Dan Borislow will no longer be welcome as part of it.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
– Credit for quotes: http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-opinion/6830670/women-professional-soccer-league-turmoil
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