NWSL’s Reign FC has announced exclusive negotiations for a sale of the club to OL Groupe, the parent company of Olympique Lyonnais.
Under details that were disclosed in Monday’s announcement, current Reign FC majority owners Teresa Predmore and Bill Predmore would retain a minority stake in the club after a sale to OL Groupe has been completed, while Bill Predmore will serve as CEO of Reign FC and Teresa Predmore will continue to serve as President of Reign Academy. The Hanauer Family and Tacoma Soccer Ventures, who were announced as investors in January 2019 to coincide with Reign FC’s move to Tacoma, would not have ownership positions with the club after a sale to OL Groupe is finalized.
In the announcement, it was stated that Reign FC will continue to play home matches at Cheney Stadium–the facility it shares with Minor League Baseball’s Tacoma Rainiers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and USL Championship’s Tacoma Defiance. Furthermore, it said that “the club will continue its collaboration with the Sounders and Rainiers, supporting their efforts to build a new soccer-specific stadium in Tacoma.”
A sale is not final at this point, but Monday’s announcement stated that Reign FC and OL Groupe expect the transaction to close before January 31.
Olympique Lyonnais (also referred to as OL, or Lyon) is a French football club that plays in Division 1 Féminine (women) and Ligue 1 (men). Olympique Lyonnais Féminin has won thirteen consecutive domestic league titles and six UEFA Women’s Champions League titles, including the last four in a row.
“Our ambition has always been to operate the best women’s football club in the world,” Reign FC majority owner Bill Predmore said in a press statement. “This is a distinction long held by OL, making them the perfect organization to help us achieve our long-term objectives for the club.”
Since its founding in 2012, Reign FC has delivered strong performances on the pitch, winning two NWSL Shields (2014 and 2015), and making four playoff appearances (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019), while featuring the NWSL MVP and Golden Boot Winner (Kim Little, 2014), NWSL Rookie of the Year (Bethany Balcer, 2019), NWSL Defender of the Year (Lauren Barnes, 2016), and NWSL Coach of the Year (Laura Harvey, 2014 and 2015, and Vlatko Andonovski, 2019). The 2019 season also ended with the club’s best-ever financial performance, with record revenues from ticket sales, merchandise, and sponsorship. The club also set several attendance records during the season, including a crowd of 7,479 for its game against the Chicago Red Stars, the all-time best match attendance in the club’s seven seasons.
“Teresa and I are proud of what the organization has accomplished over the past seven years and believe these efforts have created a strong foundation for the club’s future success. That said, we know that there remains much work to do to realize our dreams and aspirations for the club,” said Predmore. “We are deeply appreciative of the fans, supporters, and our partners in the business community who supported the club over the past seven years and helped make the club a success. In particular, the front office and technical staff who have served the organization deserve to be recognized for their tireless efforts on the club’s behalf. Our head coaches – Laura Harvey and Vlatko Andonovski – helped shape the unique culture of the club and have engrained in the organization a devotion to excellence and success. And most of all, we thank the players for their dedication, commitment, and continued sacrifice to play the game they love.”
The nine-team NWSL will begin its eighth season in March, and is expected to introduce a new commissioner during the first half of 2020, according to Monday’s announcement. Other changes have also been taking place, including at lease one expansion club–Proof Louisville FC–lined up for 2021, and new compensation rules for the coming season.
“Growing the club, the league, and the sport demands increased investment in our facilities, our staff, our players, and the league,” said Predmore. “OL has the capacity to make these needed investments, and the knowledge and experience to make those investments in the manner most likely to yield results. We believe the combination of OL’s experience and expertise with our knowledge of the market and league will allow future investments to deliver the optimal impact to the club and to the NWSL.”
Reign Academy, owned and operated by Reign FC, would also fall under control of the OL Groupe. Teresa Predmore would continue to serve as President of Reign Academy after a sale to OL Groupe is complete.
“We believe Reign FC’s lasting legacy in our region can be Reign Academy,majority owner and Reign Academy president Teresa Predmore said in a press statement. “OL has a long and successful history of developing female players in its academy programs, which will serve as a guide for our future growth. OL shares our belief that female players deserve and benefit from an environment and approach that serves the unique needs of female players. In becoming part of the OL family we can now deliver players a truly special set of opportunities and experiences locally, nationally, and globally.”
“We are grateful for the support – financial and otherwise – from Adrian and Lenore Hanauer and the Sounders organization, which has always been focused on helping our club secure its position in our region’s thriving soccer community. They are incredible partners who helped make this day possible,” Bill Predmore said in a press statement. “We are excited to continue our collaboration with Adrian and the Sounders and expect there will be many more opportunities in the future to work together to grow the sport in the Pacific Northwest.”
“The new stadium project represents a unique opportunity for Tacoma and for our entire region, as the project may be the first soccer-specific stadium designed from the start to incorporate the feedback and requirements of a professional women’s soccer team,” said Predmore. “We’ll continue to do whatever we can to support the efforts of Mayor Woodards, the Sounders, Rainiers, the City of Tacoma, and Metro Parks Tacoma to help make the stadium project a reality as soon as possible.”
Image courtesy Reign FC.
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