Tuesday October 3, 2023

Portland Timbers Owner to Sell NWSL’s Thorns

  • The Portland Thorns are up for sale.
  • Owner Merritt Paulson stepped down from his role as CEO in October.
Portland Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson embraces Timbers player after game
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with Merritt Paulson’s official announcement of his plans to sell the Portland Timbers.

Portland Thorns and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has put the NWSL team up for sale.

Paulson stepped down from his role as both teams’ CEO in October after an incident report was released revealing allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct in the NWSL — Paulson was named in the probe and has been called on to sell.

“I believe it is in best interest of the Thorns to have a new owner so that the club can operate at the league level with a fresh voice to be a driving force for the NWSL,” wrote Paulson, who also announced a $1 million commitment to establishing a NWSL Player Safety Office.

Peregrine Sports, the ownership group controlled by Paulson and his father, are reportedly looking for $30 million to $50 million for the Thorns.

  • Paulson and his family purchased the Timbers — then a USL team — in 2007 and paid the $40 million MLS entry fee in 2010. The Thorns joined the NWSL in 2013.
  • Last year, a private equity firm and other undisclosed investors reportedly took a 15% stake in the teams at a $600 million valuation

The Thorns won their third NWSL Championship in October. 

Portland Potential

A group of women led by Melanie Strong, a former Nike executive who started Next Ventures VC with Lance Armstrong, is reportedly a prospective buyer. 

Paulson “is betting that a sale of the Thorns to a group of women would take the heat off him as owner and allow him to keep the Timbers, the stadium deal, and media rights,” according to a previous report. 

Both teams lost several sponsorship deals after the investigation.

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