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Friday, June 14, 2024

Timbers, Thorns Lose Deals Following NWSL Investigation

  • Alaska Airlines is redirecting money from the Portland Thorns and Timbers.
  • An investigation was launched due to complaints against former Thorns coach Paul Riley.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Two soccer clubs are losing deals following the release of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s investigation into the NWSL’s alleged misconduct.

Alaska Airlines is redirecting money from the Portland Thorns and Timbers to the NWSL Players Association’s Support the Players National Emergency Trust and local youth sports. 

The investigation was launched due to complaints against former Thorns and North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley.

  • The probe found that Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson had been supportive of Riley despite the allegations. He removed himself from decision-making duties and has been called on to sell the team.
  • Thorns executives Mike Golub and Gavin Wilkinson have been fired.

Alaska Airlines’ decision was made after “calls from the player association to support their emergency fund, listening to the Portland fan community, and speaking with team leaders to understand their progress.”

As a founding partner of the Timbers, Alaska Airlines has long had ties to the club, including as its “official jersey partner” since 2011.

Oregon-based Directors Mortgage and Union Wine Company have also ended their deals with both teams.

“We will only reconsider future sponsorship if the organization makes meaningful institutional transformation that helps lead to positive systemic change,” Union Wine Company stated.

Portland’s Price

Paulson purchased the then-USL Timbers in 2007 and paid $35 million for an MLS expansion team in 2011. Arctos Sports Partners and other investors who weren’t identified acquired a 15% stake in the Thorns and Timbers last year at an enterprise value of $600 million.

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