New women's league planned for 2013

Discussion in 'NWSL' started by kolabear, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    But it would be a start, wouldn't it?

    I mean, none of the other stuff matters if you bleed out, does it?

    The W-League and WPSL are subsistence farming. They're like airline food - they'll keep you alive, but you're not all that excited about it, and there had better be something way better in the terminal when you deplane.

    A new league - should it begin, as some believe, at a lower level and grow gradually - would likely have to sell the "we're growing something here" aspect as its relevance (whatever your definition of "relevance" is - we're talking about a women's sports league here, there's a ceiling to its relevance). Improvement over time. That's all I can give you right now.

    Am I 100% sure the start-small-and-grow approach will work? Nope. Nobody is. But I am 1000% convinced if you just throw money at another women's D1 league and say "NOW we're serious," it won't work. It'll bleed out. There is a market for this. It's not nearly large enough or lucrative enough to have the kind of league some of you seem to expect/demand/anticipate.

    Oh, I'm sorry. You said "WPS was a big step up." And I said, basically, "And it didn't work." You seem to be misunderstanding my point, which is "Whatever good you think WPS did, it didn't work. So none of the other stuff matters." You want to bumper sticker stuff, I can do it, too.

    Very, very simple point: it didn't work. Therefore, you did something wrong. It's great that you (apparently) did some things right. Fabulous.

    Just not enough of them. Obviously. That's like saying you looked really, really good right before you slit your wrists.

    It sounds like, to many of you, it's not going to be worthy unless it's D1, standalone, give-it-one-more-shot-with-feeling, right out of the gates for a third time.

    It's going to take time, that's the major thing. Stability. You start with x number of teams and in year two, you keep all those teams and if you add a couple, great. But you can't lose any from year one to year two, because then you're back to the "here we go again" bit.

    Every year that you survive and remain stable and don't have franchises fold or shift, you add another layer of relevancy. It's not much from year one to year two, but by year five, the impact is greater. By the same token, if you have the same sequence where teams fold, new teams come in, teams fold mid-season, it detracts from your relevance. People see you as fly-by-night.

    WoSo 3.0 is not going to be easy. You can learn a lot from 1.0 and 2.0. Hopefully the first lesson is that all you'll do chasing first-year relevance is burn through a ton of money.


  2. Peter Wilt

    Peter Wilt Member

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    I give my proxy to Kenn and Gregg_G. The difference between "new WPSL/W-League" and old should be the inclusion of most top US players and more top intl. players which would give more credibility to the new version. By default, as the top level in the US, it will get attention from women's soccer fans and media in the US. Broadcast and general media coverage will be less than WPS/WUSA, but if it's in 16 to 20 markets, the cumulative local coverage and grass roots interest may actually be higher than it was during the D1 era.

    This argument/discussion kind of reminds me of the age old "when will soccer make it in the US" discussion. Don't worry about that. Just work on building the sport in a way that makes economic sense and it will grow at a pace that the market dictates is appropriate and eventually it will reach the status of "making it" that many crave.
    necron99 and SiberianThunderT repped this.
  3. Peter Wilt

    Peter Wilt Member

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    September 3, 2017 (i got a tip).
    SiberianThunderT repped this.
  4. Greg_G

    Greg_G Member

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    ^^^ I can't stress this excellent point enough. The powers that be have to work within the confines of the market rather than trying to bulldoze through the realities of it. We now have 2 failed fully pro leagues, and two operational semi-pro/amateur leagues to learn from (not to mention the MLS's early, tumultuous years and numerous semi-pro leagues around the world), and if we haven't learned, first and foremost, that "start small" and "spend within your means" is the way to go then we are lost (that's coming off way more melodramatic than I intended...but I hope you get the idea).


  5. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    Thanks to Greg_G for putting out the effort to try to answer some of these issues. I think, however, the partial nature of the answers underscore what I'm concerned about. Left wide open still is the question of what level of quality to expect from a semi-pro league of "moderate size" with a "national footprint". I think we all agree some of the W-League and WPSL teams have been very good. But if W-League and WPSL are any indication, we can expect several of the teams to be rather far below WPS standards, especially if the talent is diluted over 12 or more teams. Will the quality of play keep fans interested and attract new fans? I think we can also agree that WPS passed the test when it came to the proverbial "product on the field". But what reason does the new league give us for thinking it can do that as a league (as apart from one or two teams)?

    Regarding the 3rd point, I think there's something fundamentally wrong with the description of how sports leagues have developed in real life. Somehow missing is the reality that all the major leagues in the US saw a number of franchises fold in their early years, all leagues went through crises. This "slow but steady growth" notion may seem reasonable in light of how big they are now but it ignores how risky and perilous they were when starting out. Expecting there is some business model that can provide a safe haven from risks and offer safe, steady growth for women's soccer is NOT what logically follows from "discovering/admitting to ourselves that women's pro soccer is no different."
    There is some element of "build it and they will come" involved in the history of the leagues I can think of. Now we can all agree that a women's league has to start on a much lower level than the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS did. But there's got to be some level at which you're asking to be taken seriously or you just won't be and I don't believe any of those other leagues did a "slow and steady growth" from being semi-pro. But I could be wrong.
  6. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member

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    which strongly suggests that "being relevant" isn't good enough.

    "being relevant" may not be the question to deal with at the start of a women's team sports league in a market economy. "being viable and sustainable" is way more important in a market economy.

    as much as i want d1, i think that starting without it may be the only way to get something foundational going that can be perpetuated .

    "being relevant" is an ok question in europe where gov't and men's team support is almost a given. i don't think it's an ok question to grapple with now at the start of our third go around in the u.s.
  7. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    Well, what lesson do you take from MLS? That they could've gotten to where there are now in some "slow and sure" way ("organic growth" some like to call it), without the early years of crisis? I don't think you can make that inference.

    (Uh-oh, I think I'm going to be making that "vision" speech from Roger Rabbit again soon...) :)
  8. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member

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    we can do it the way mls did it if we can get the $$ men to be willing to invest in women's soccer for as long as it takes regardless of the numbers of teams that fold.

    i think it's been demonstrated that those $$ men/women with interest in women's soccer don't exist.

    hence the new approach.
  9. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

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    Most of them also started in a much different environment. The sports environment of America in 1917, 1920 and 1946 isn't relevant in terms of a startup sports proposition today because American audiences are quicker to dismiss something that has APFA-level drama in its formative years. That's just reality.

    Had MLS lost two teams early (or had one go out during a season), expanded and contracted like WPS did and generally looked sickly from the get-go, it would have been much, much harder for it to grab a foothold, no matter how much Phil Anschutz kept giving it an IV. It would have been seen as "Just Another Soccer League That's Going To Fold," which may have become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    We look at the turmoil surrounding a league like the ABA (read Terry Pluto's excellent Loose Balls if you haven't already) throughout its existence and think it's charming and quaint and interesting. But you couldn't run a league like that today. The customer wouldn't stand for it. They're more sophisticated now, they don't have time for your New Jersey Americans/Teaneck Armory/Spirits of St. Louis b.s. today.

    Women's pro soccer has now - twice - written in very large letters on the side of a very large building, "THIS ISN'T WORKING." I have to believe a lot of people have noticed and the next league will have to overcome that perception (just as MLS did). The first step is surviving, and doing so while acting professionally and not ABA-ish. I'm sorry if slow and steady isn't sexy enough for some people, but women's professional soccer has put itself into a situation where it has to overcome a lot of negative perceptions. I don't see how starting yet another full-blown D1 league and having the inevitable "growing pains" once again will help matters.
    Roger Allaway repped this.
  10. SiberianThunderT

    SiberianThunderT Member+

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    No offense to everyone who's been putting page-long posts arguing the merits and failings of different methods and past leagues, but...

    We've heard all of this before. Multiple times. Often in multiple threads at the same time.

    Can we keep this thread JUST about news for the new league, (or league-specific discussion,) instead of retreating to the same "what model will work?" discussion? Pretty please?
  11. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    Well you guys are determined to miss my point (and a damn excellent one it is, I insist!). So, correct, being "relevant" wasn't enough but it's still important for the reason (and I'm repeating myself) that W-League and WPSL have survived and yet all of us (ALL OF US, not just me) agree they're not nearly enough, which is why we're talking about a new league.
  12. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    Like W-League and WPSL got so much media attention & TV coverage when WUSA/WPS weren't around. Okay, I think Fox Soccer showed the W-League title games, maybe still do.

    Also, I'm not sure why this new league would be hopeful about getting top international players (it'll help if, as Peter W. suggests in his model for a new league, that they have Designated Players similar to MLS). Kelly Smith played for the NJ Wildcats back in the day after WUSA folded. Do you see that happening now? England has their own league started now and Germany and Sweden are much more active in bringing in international players than then as well.
  13. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    Sorry but I think you're going to be ignored on this one! It's not like there's news popping up everyday on it either and there won't be for at least the foreseeable future. We have Peter Wilt and Kenn Tomasch in the house, as well as others - we should hear what they have to say.
  14. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member

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    no. (i agree with you on this one.)

    but the new league should not attempt to bring them in and compete with what the foreign teams are playing if it doesn't fit into their proposed $500,000 budget.

    they can still use the drawing point that they'll have internationals. and they will. maybe a few canadian and australian ones.
  15. Greg_G

    Greg_G Member

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    I think we can make a reasonably accurate guess at the level of quality in this proposed league (and of course without further details regarding the league our whole conversation is treading in very deep hypothetical waters...). Assuming that all the American national teamers return for this league, and that most or all of the Internationals still plying their trade in the WPSL/W-League commit, I don't think you'll see a league "rather far below WPS standards." You have to remember that as much talent as there was in WPS, the limited number of roster spots pushed quite a few great players overseas or kept them in semi-pro ball. Doubling the number of teams from WPS wouldn't necessarily create a significant drop in quality (there were tons of elite players that could barely make it onto the field in WPS who would welcome twice the number of roster spots). We know it'll be higher than what we have now because this new league won't spread its talent out over 30 teams like the W-League or 70+ like WPSL/WPSL-Elite (and part of the reason we know for a fact the level of quality will be higher is because fewer teams and fewer roster spots equals more competition and more competitive balance between teams; it's why WPS was widely regarded as the best league in the world - top talent stuffed onto so few teams). We know it'll be lower than what we had with WPS...that's a given; less money on offer will do that. If I had to point out what I think is an equivalent league to what we could put out next year, I'd say somewhere between Sweden (which I think is #1 top to bottom) and Germany (#2 or #3 top to bottom; a few elite sides, a few decent sides, a few weaker sides). This would put the league somewhere in the vicinity of 2nd to 4th best in the world in terms of quality top to bottom.

    As for whether fans will stay interested, again you can look to the numbers being drawn for WPSL-Elite/WPSL/W-League for what should be the minimum expected, and WPS for the maximum expected. There's no reason to believe they won't do significantly better than the two current leagues if the USWNT is involved and if the facilities are better, with a more concentrated league to focus their resources on. And if the MLS and/or USSF provides some administrative assistance the league should be better marketed, creating much more awareness than was present during the WPS's run. But, the most important point is not "how many and how good" will the league be in its infancy, it's "how many and how good" can it be in the future if we do things the right way.

    My descriptions and prognostications always take into account the volatility of young leagues. It would be folly to assume that a few clubs wouldn't be lost/relocated in the early years of the league as we figure out the best markets and franchises learn how to operate within a limited financial climate (another reason 12 teams is better than, say, 8; start with 8, lose a couple, and you're relying on USSF waivers and vague expansion prospects again). But, again, if a sound financial model is put into place the number of teams folding will be minimal, and the ease with which new franchises could be established would be higher. I don't think a single person on these boards is assuming that any women's soccer league won't be risky from a stability standpoint, or immune from any obstacles faced by other leagues in their infancy. I'm not sure where you got this impression from me that I think otherwise.

    Honestly, all of those major leagues (with the exception of MLS; though there is a reason you didn't see soccer specific stadiums and designated players from the get go...) did slow and steady growth. They all dealt with teams folding, limited salaries (and, in some cases, no salaries), mergers with rival leagues, quick periods of expansion followed by periods of contraction, etc. None of them began to reach the heights they currently occupy until they worked out the most stable franchises, started bringing in television money, and eliminated major rival leagues - all of this decades into their operating runs. Look to the UFC for a recent example of these very same principles (started small with little to no respectable mainstream following; fluctuating rosters due to lack of sanctioning/regulation, lack of quality due to low training standards, competition from other forms of martial combat - especially boxing). The UFC started small and sloppy, and as they got their act together into a more professional outfit, grew their fan base, and started bringing in revenue, they eliminated their competition (Pride, Strikeforce, etc), consolidated most of the top talent, secured big television money and sponsorships, and now are the envy of combat sports and a legitimate mainstream athletic league. It didn't require an immediate injection of big time money, just enough time to refine the product and grow.

    It really isn't a mystery how this league should operate - two recent failures have given us a good idea what won't fly. The only question really is whether we, as women's soccer fans, are patient enough to let the league do what it has to do. If that means we don't get to see Philly playing in PPL or LA in Home Depot Center, so be it. If that means Abby isn't getting $150k a year, and Morgan isn't getting $5 million Nike deals, so be it. If it means the tv rights don't get picked up by ESPN, so be it. Sacrifices must be made by everyone involved, players, coaches, owners, and especially fans. Let's moderate our expectations and not tear down something we desperately want because it's not as fancy as we'd like it to be.
  16. BostonRed

    BostonRed Member+

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    Considering you have some decent internationals in the WPSL now, I'm sure you'll always get some who come over for the adventure of it, especially if the quality of play is good. If you can keep most of the USWNT pool and Canadian players in the league as well as the US export players, it'll still be a better place to play than many of the other opportunities.

    You won't get the really big names, but that's probably a better deal for all concerned. I would expect a lot of one year deals that let them play in another league like Australia.
  17. Greg_G

    Greg_G Member

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    Uh oh, I hope I didn't induce a heart attack with that last post...:mad:. I think the reason these issues keep coming up is because we can't even seem to agree on what women's soccer in general needs to accomplish, much less what to think of a prospective new league. The hope is to come to some agreement about the broad steps but that takes time, and unfortunately, page-long posts :(, to work out in this format. I will attempt to be more brief from now on, my fingers and your blood pressure will be the better for it.
  18. SiberianThunderT

    SiberianThunderT Member+

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    Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I was about to blow a gasket; it's more deflating, not infuriating. It's really tiring to see a small handful of people going back and forth, especially when there's not much the average reader will get out of their argument. No need to worry about my blood pressure (though I can't speak for your fingers) ^^;

    I mean, I totally agree that lots of discussion needs to happen - at places like the AmWoSo roundtable USSF held. There's not much use in going over the points on a fan forum, especially when you're much more likely on BigSoccer to get people that are inflexible and repetitive than those who can actually do something. Not that people with the ability to change things aren't on BigSoccer, but it's an open forum, so.... yeah.
    Well, as I said, if not news, then even league-specific discussion (however speculative) would be nice.... I'm just tired of going around in circles so much. Even rumors of teams/structure/etc. and "insider info" from "the cousin of a player" and such would make me happy.

    Besides, WPSL will be over in a month or so, and so will the W-League, so even if nothing new is announced until those seasons are over, that's not very long to wait. I can't image there would be more than a few weeks after that with no AmWoSo 2013 news...
  19. Bonnie Lass

    Bonnie Lass Super Moderator Staff Member

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    League - Date founded
    Division 1 Feminine: 1974
    Toppserien: 1984
    Damallsvenskan: 1988
    Frauen Bundesliga: 1990

    Aside from longevity, it also helps that soccer is one of the top sports in those countries. Those TV deals didn't come easy, and definitely didn't come within the first 3 years of being founded. Internet streaming has also been a factor.

    Yeah, you're going to have some blowouts. Some serious blowouts. But you're also going to have 5 or 6 teams that can beat one another on any given day. You watch the blowouts for fun and the rest for serious competition. You can grow a fanbase on that model. But you have to be around for that growth to happen.

    Again, I hate to preach about longevity, but here's my thing. I've been following Toppserien since before WUSA launched. It was there before, it was there after. Same thing for WPS. I know that if I were to blow $1,000 on a plane ticket to Europe for next Spring, I'd be able to see a Toppserien match. Same thing for Damallsvenskan and F. Bundesliga. And yet, I would have been scared to purchase a WPS game ticket more than a month in advance.
  20. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    My quick reaction to this - what Internationals are "plying their trade" currently in WPSL/W-League compared with who's "missing"? I hope we can keep Canada's Christine Sinclair here as well as Sophie Schmidt, Karina LeBlanc and Erin McLeod.

    But here's some of the ones that are "missing" -

    Kelly Smith
    Alex Scott
    Katie Chapman
    Sonia Bompastor
    Camille Abily
    Caroline Seger
    Vero Boquete
    Homare Sawa
    Aya Miyama
    and the odd Brazilian or two....


    Now some of these players left these shores even before the WPS 3rd season but these players made a significant impact on the level of play in the league. Without Internationals of a similar caliber coming to play in the new league, the quality of play is bound to suffer noticeably. I don't see like-caliber in W-League/WPSL today & it's hard to imagine attracting many of them back with the increased competition from the German, Swedish, English, Japanese leagues... and Olympique Lyonnais.
  21. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member

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    don't know how we can assume this. this is one of the things i agree with kolabear on.

    is ussoccer going to pay alex morgan and hope solo the money they can make playing in sweden or germany or ....?

    not sure the new league can.

    oops. i see kolabear responded while i was composing this post. (different point tho.)
  22. Greg_G

    Greg_G Member

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    Go through the WPSL and W-League rosters and you will find dozens of Internationals playing on those teams. If not for the Olympic preparations of many teams this year, there would be even more. Of course the league wouldn't bring in all the talent WPS had, that was already stated clearly, but we wouldn't need Marta, Seger, Boquete, and others to put together one of the best leagues in the world. There's plenty of talent, domestic and international - that's why there are numerous major men's leagues, there's talent to go around.

    This is where that "sacrifice" thing I mentioned comes in. These players wouldn't be playing in the new league for the money, they'd be playing to be part of helping grow a pro league in their home country. It's not a stretch to imagine many would be willing to do so, and I can see a scenario where they all would (the fact that this would be the only pro league in the world, combined with the fact that those players would still continue to pull in their national team salaries doesn't make this a pay for peanuts scenario). Plus, there's a reason I mentioned words like "hypothetical" and "assuming," because we don't know; I don't know if they'll all join the league, and you don't know if they won't. But my answer was predicated, as was stated, on the hypothetical situation that they all did decide to join the league.
  23. BostonRed

    BostonRed Member+

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    And I'm not sure you'd want the league to, either, at least right now. If it's money motivating them or the belief it's a better opportunity overseas, that's where they will go. I'd rather spend money on a more balanced roster than have Marta weighing down the payroll (you thought it was bad when Beckham joined the Galaxy -- at least those guys got paid something). They can always arrange a one-month loan for Alex to come in to sell out the stadium during the summer.
  24. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    For the sake of discussion I can find ways to assume that Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and Abby Wambach play in the new league rather than go abroad. Most of their money coming from endorsements and sponsors, I can see how maybe the sponsors and the players would agree it was in their best marketing interests to play in the US.

    But our next-best players who don't have endorsement deals? Players like Cheney, O'Reilly, Rapinoe, and promising players like Press, Harris, Engen? I"m not saying we would lose all of them or even most of them but the way I see it, you're either bringing in some of the best players from other countries or you're losing some of your best players. There's either a net inflow or a net outflow; the natural equilibrium is not equal in and out. It's different now than just 3 or 4 years ago. Some clubs (like Olympique Lyonnais) are paying pretty good money for players. And if a player is motivated by competition & prestige, if the best international players are going elsewhere, they'll be motivated to go there, too. Remember, Europe already has the advantage of the Champion's League as a lure to players.
  25. kolabear

    kolabear Member

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    But, but... this is BigSoccer! Isn't this what we do?!

    Seriously, I try to think of the average reader and say something that they can get something from. And I think there's plenty from Kenn Tomasch, Peter Wilt and the others that they can get something from. However, I guess there are times when I'm just naturally very, very annoying...

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