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Friday, June 14, 2024

Another NWSL Franchise Up for Sale

  • The Chicago Red Stars are on the market following a public outcry by players.
  • Team owner Arnim Whisler was included in an investigation into systemic abuse and sexual misconduct.
NWSL Chicago Red Stars players celebrate in front of fans after scoring goal
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars are officially up for grabs.

The Red Stars are on the market following a public outcry by players regarding team owner Arnim Whisler being included in a U.S. Soccer-commissioned investigation into systemic abuse and sexual misconduct

The investigation revealed that Whisler dismissed allegations against former Red Stars coach Rory Dames, which led to players calling for him to sell his stake. 

In October, the Red Stars’ board of directors voted to remove Whisler as chairman. 

  • Whisler has hired New-York based investment bank Inner Circle Sports for the sale.
  • There is no deadline to find a buyer. 

The Chicago Red Stars are the second NWSL currently on the market. On Thursday, Portland Thorns and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson officially began the sales process for the Thorns.

Portland Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson embraces Timbers player after game

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Paulson was also named in the probe and stepped down from his role as CEO for both the Thorns and Timbers in October. Peregrine Sports — the ownership group controlled by Paulson and his father — is reportedly expected to receive an offer from a consortium of investors led by former Nike executive Melanie Strong that would give the Thorns a $60 million valuation.

The team won its third NWSL title in October. 

Getting Bigger 

The NWSL is looking to add two expansion teams to its 12-club roster by the 2024 season. The league is expected to field “five-to-10 official bids” following interest from 82 groups, according to commissioner Jessica Berman. New owners could pay up to $50 million in expansion fees.

A decision on expansion franchises is expected in early 2023.

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