The Saint Louis Athletica in Women’s Professional Soccer are shutting down their franchise as a funding crisis has left the team without the necessary funds to operate for the 2010 WPS Season. The Athletica players will be available as free agents to other WPS teams as of Tuesday, June 1.
Just two weeks ago, the league learned of a cash flow shortage at St. Louis Soccer United – which includes the owner of the Saint Louis Athletica and a St. Louis men’s team – that threatened the remainders of both teams’ seasons. After a thorough and extensive review of the situation together with interested parties, which involved the League covering the funding shortfall for the Athletica’s last two player payrolls, the Athletica have folded their franchise. WPS will re-make the remaining schedule for the 2010 WPS season as a seven-team league – the same number that took part during the WPS Inaugural Season.
“It’s incredibly difficult to lose a team in mid-season like this,” said WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. “We looked at a few options as a league together with our Board and U.S. Soccer, but the operational hurdles and finances just didn’t work out. In the face of a severe funding gap in St. Louis, the local ownership group is shutting down the team at this point.”
The rest of the 2010 WPS Schedule without Saint Louis Athletica will be revised and released next week. The previously completed six league games against Saint Louis will count in the standings and the Athletica will not play in this weekend’s previously scheduled game.
“This is a setback, but it’s one individual franchise and the loss of a team is an unfortunate reality of pro sports,” said Antonucci. “We’ll continue to have great games and an exciting season for our fans. The solid foundation that we built in 2009 is there. We have the same number of teams that we had last year during a successful first season. We’ll get through this stronger and keep moving the league and business forward.”
Saint Louis Athletica players will still be eligible for the 2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve if they are rostered on another WPS team by Friday, June 11. As of June 1, Athletica players are no longer under club contracts and can sign with any team as free agents.