NWSL TV Deal Confusion, No Commissioner and Women’s Soccer Season Starts April 15

The National Women’s Soccer League lost Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan to Manchester City and Lyon, respectively, during the winter. Then on March 3rd, commissioner Jeff Plush announced his resignation from the NWSL. Meanwhile, the league okayed the relocation of its reigning champion, the Western New York Flash, to North Carolina. With so much upheaval, fans of the league can be forgiven for wondering, what the hell is going on?

Now reports from media sources indicate that the proposed television deal with Lifetime is still… well, not sorted out. And it seems like there is very little build-up about the new women’s soccer season as the first day looms. April 15th will see the NWSL kickoff its fifth season, a make or break year.

New TV deal

A deal with the Lifetime television channel would be massive for the fledgling league. Salaries aren’t huge for the players and any exposure they can get on televisions across the United States would be big. Presumably, the players could see a little bump in salary. Last season, the league streamed games on YouTube and fans were able to watch the games even after they had taken place on the website. However, it looks like YouTube will no longer play host to the games.

According to soccer writer Jonathan Tannenwald, the league has hired Dalen Cuff of ESPN to be its in-studio host. The broadcaster is a soccer fan, though he mostly works on college basketball for the sports channel.

In other news…

The league has kept its cards close to its vest this season, which isn’t unlike US men’s league Major League Soccer. The MLS has gotten better over the last five years about releasing news via its website or other sources. Yet, it seems that the NWSL has been quiet for most of the offseason, with only the bad news of departures really leaking out.

Is Marta with Orlando Pride or not?

One story that was suppose to be good news for the NWSL was the arrival of Brazilian player Marta. The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year was expected to sign with Orlando Pride. However, no news has crept out after the initial story broke in early March.

Signing Marta would have been a massive step in a league that seems to be treading water at the minute. Marta has already had three stints in the various US women’s soccer leagues, and has spent time playing for Los Angeles Sol, FC Gold Pride and Western New York.

The radio silence by the NWSL shows the league isn’t marketing itself as it should be ahead of the new season. Although the league’s website has been releasing news here and there, it could be doing much more to draw interest in the NWSL and its teams.

 

Drew Farmer
I am a freelance journalist and author currently living in Manchester, England. Originally from the USA, I have written about sports and travel for years.I have written for Hopeless Football Romantic magazine, The Football Pink magazine, World Soccer Talk, Sports Collectors Daily, Forza Italian Football and many more. My debut book Soccer Travels was released in spring 2016, and details travelling to soccer matches around the globe. It can be purchased on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.