Solutions to Women's Pro Soccer

Discussion in 'NWSL' started by koppite4ever, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. koppite4ever

    koppite4ever New Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Washington DC
    There are many reasons why the WUSA failed and without the actual figures in front of me, here are some factors based on what I have observed over the years:

    1. No major TV contract.

    No full-time pro team sport can survive financially without a major TV contract that provides half the league's income. There is no mass advertising revenue, no mass marketing making the games into major events to attend, no major talking points or action that fans can get excited about, and there is no information about the players that the fans can relate to. Mia Hamm is still the only name that people recognize in the general public.

    2. National League of 10 teams made no semse.

    This is a country the size of a continent, so it cannot sustain new national leagues. The cost of flying teams from DC to LA and hosting them is never recovered by gate receipts and advertising dollars in the stadiums. So you always lose money on cross country trips or cross region trips.

    3. Salaries of players and foreigners vs their appeal

    Any full-time salary of an athlete should be measure by their appeal. If the National Team barely attracts crowds of 7,000 after winning an Olympic gold medal, then how could anyone think that pro women's teams would attract any more numbers?

    You cannot justify the salaries of Americans players, and especially foreigners that are totally unknown to the general public, when their appeal is no TV Money, little advertising revenue, and crowds of 5-10,000 per game.

    4. Salaries of coaches and admin staff

    All these employees are full-time and again, since there is no major sales for games, you cannot pay these people ridiculous amounts of cash for a league that is not interesting to watch.

    5. Stadium costs

    The expense of renting a major stadium per game is far too great to sustain a pro league. RFK Stadium in DC, for example, costs $60,000 per game to use. The tiny audience of 6 or 7000 die hards would not cover the visitor's costs never mind pay for the stadium, concessions and security. The Freedom's only hope was doing a double header with DC United which is not viable for some other teams.

    6. Lack of entertainment vs entertainment dollars

    The reason why many females do not attend female soccer games or watch them on TV is 1) there are no guys there and 2) the game is too slow and boring to be interesting and waste precious disposable income.

    So many coaches in WUSA (like in MLS) spoke about how winning so important to their teams, when just about anyone qualified with a losing record each year anyway. You would have to be terrible not to qualify. So rather than focus on promoting soccer and vigorously encouraging their teams to play attacking soccer with many risks, they focused instead on possession soccer which bored fans to death. They wanted to be "super coaches" instead of allowing their teams play super soccer. It was pathetic and typical of the mindset of the American coach who mimics what is in fashion in the soccer world. No coach in WUSA or MLS still understands the need to provide entertainment FIRST and FOREMOST on the pitch before anything else. There was no great rush to save Freedom and Mia when the league got suspended. That said it all, just like the pittance of 15,000 or so die hards that came to DC United even after winning MLS 3 times. Nobody cares. People want to be excited at a sporting event. Only then will they spend more dollars.

    So the solutions are simple:

    1. Use the W-League as the model for top women's soccer.

    If every continental state has a W-League team, then we can have a Regional women's league each summer (4 regions of 12) where the 4 regional winners play in a National Final Four to complete the season. The furthest travel would be 4 hours by road. No more expensive flights and hotels.

    2. Players are paid by their worth.

    If crowds are consistently in the 4-5,000 range then salaries should be part-time and can be supplemented by admin work, coaching youth, or a regular job (which is why they went to college in the first place).

    3. Games should be played in college or high school sized stadia where investment can be spent in the field surface quality.

    If the fields are good then that is where the games and training should occur. The more intimate community crowd will give a more touchable atmosphere for fans and thus make life easier to promote to youth fans and the general public. Prices will be kept affordable for the average family to attend and Friday night soccer can be a great summer exploit. The cost of using such stadia will be affordable to the league and clubs.

    4. Local cable TV stations can bring the games to the fans.

    Local advertising would make more sense in building the franchise in a community for long term status. Local businesses can identify with the franchise and thus income can be generated more locally and more long term.

    5. Invest in a youth development structure for long term community outreach.

    Since this is fast growing sport among children, the league should invest in the future of the youth in the sport. Thereby, since college players cannot play in the league (being semi-pro) they could have an U23 League for local college players to play in and become future club players after college.

    To have U19-U8 teams at the club will allow the players at the club to identify with the youth through coaching teams and individuals. Those teams can attend the games and families will feel more connected. Now the entire future of the women's game will be empowered to women players as they demonstrate their skills in summer match play and coach their local youth year round.

    Note: that the college and youth player would have to pay for this privilege, not the Women's League, just as they do in Super Y League.

    This simple 5 step plan is a way forward for the women's game. I see no current future in full-time pro soccer for women until TV and attendances get interested. So we should build steadily from the ground up and still provide a competitive arena for our local women to play and connect them to our youth. I also believe this is the model for the Men and MLS.
  2. MRAD12

    MRAD12 Member+

    Jun 10, 2004
    Chicago Fire
    I've said this before, not untill your average "Joe and Josephine SixPack" get excited about the game, women's pro soccer at a high level will have a hard time making it. Soccer diehards like me who drive from Chicago to Cary, NC to see the WUSA All-Star game are far and few in between. And you can't expect the Soccer Mom and Dad who often are not big time soccer fans, (They are just there because their little girl is playing U-8 soccer this year) to foot the whole bill either.
  3. koppite4ever

    koppite4ever New Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Washington DC
    I agree, which is why I said the clubs must be regional and community oriented and not big stadium oriented.

    As for youth families footing the bill. That is not what I said.

    I stated that for college players to play in an U23 League (like PDL for Men) and for U8-U19 youth teams to be under the development of the club, parents would pay the registration, coaching and affiliation costs for that, like they would for any club team or youth league as they do for Super Y League.

    I hope that is more clear.
  4. MRAD12

    MRAD12 Member+

    Jun 10, 2004
    Chicago Fire
    I know you didn't say that. I did. That's my observation of going to numerous women's games, pro and college. I used to go to chicago cobras games when charmaine Hooper plyed for them. the attendancewas wasn't bad and I enjoyed the games.
  5. TOTC

    TOTC Member

    Feb 20, 2001
    Laurel, MD, USA
    Where do I start?

    It had deals with ESPN, TNT, and PaxTV, plus it tied itself directly to cable concerns. The WUSA tried to oversell itself in the market place (claiming that Every Single Game in Year One was televised), but people who had a choice would stay home.

    Forget the TV; the league went forward with only three or four major sponsors.

    Ever see the commercials for "Mia vs. Brandi"?

    Evidently, you never saw a Beat vs. Freedom game, or Cindy Parlow cold-cocking Julie Foudy.

    Why is it that Hispanic kids are walking around talking about Abby "Wam-batch?"

    Ever heard of the WNBA? The new national cricket league? AFL2? MLS?

    Where were you after the '99 World Cup?

    I think the WUSA did overpay some of the overseas players (and, for that matter, the League Founding Players ...)

    There was a good amount of star-gazing when it came to team staffs. They could have done a lot more when it came to marketing. What did Marla Messing do that the WUSA staffs didn't?

    And your point is ....

    The game is slower, but the players didn't dive or cheat ... unless you're the Atlanta Beat ....

    So, you'd rather have pro hockey or basketball, playing 80 games to eliminate less than half the league? The WUSA eliminated half its league.

    Be careful the next time you go to a United game. You may not get in ....

    A high-school stadium is a high-school stadium. STOO-PAAAAAHHHHDD!!!

    Nope. Local cable keeps fans home to watch the game in comfort. Black out the home games, use the road games as two-hour infomercials.

    The Freedom are already turning into a European-level developmental program on the model of an Ajax.
  6. New Member

    Mar 25, 2004
    Hi,wise guy can you tell me of any busines making money in america today? name one,from Wall Street to Hollywood what's the news coming out Wise guy? All I can say stealing is rampant,inflating profit is a noun. to stay alive there borrowing and mergeing like they is no tomorrow.yet it do'nt work only get worse than ever before.the prolem in sport is that people today do not have purchasing dollar there used to had before. it the economy my good guy, think about it.those guy on Wall Street and Hollywood know's it.
    It's the end of the line as far the economy is concern they no way out, the goverment and big Busines do'nt want you to know that. false hope is all there can promise you. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, George Soros are a few of the realy smart guys. that something the great majority of the American do not have. all your ideas may not be the best way to save to solve the problems of WUSA. we need a person with a Bill Gates mind to get this off and running I do hope we find some one like him to run the Busines. save the wusa let us all try to think positive. you want it to come back as well as I do please stop taking out your frustrations on those of us who have hope things will turn out well some day. the WUSA can't give false information. so be kool when the time is right we will know of the plans for the WUSA.
  7. MasterShake29

    MasterShake29 Member+

    Oct 28, 2001
    Jersey City, NJ
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    MLS pays/barters to get their games on national TV. They've survived nine seasons now.
  8. Brian in Boston

    Brian in Boston Member+

    Jun 17, 2004
    MA & CA, USA
    These are the leagues that you hold up to buttress the argument that North America can sustain new nationwide professional sports leagues? Okay... let me take it a step further than koppite4ever: where are the new, independent, self-sustaining, SUCCESSFUL nationwide pro sports leagues?

    The WNBA has enjoyed the luxury of being subsidized by one of North America's "Big Four" professional sports leagues for the better part of its existance. Sure, the Connecticut Sun are independently owned, and the league talks about taking on more independent owners in the future, but the vast majority of the teams in the WNBA piggy-back their operations on those of their NBA sibling-franchise. Unless you're advocating re-launching the WUSA as a wholly-owned subsidiary/sibling league of MLS, with franchises located in MLS markets/stadiums only, then you're comparing "apples" and "oranges".

    Oh, wait... MLS is another of the examples that you brought up. Hmmm... maybe you are advocating a sibling-league set-up as part of the WUSA's re-launch. The problem is , while MLS is certainly growing stronger, it is not in the position to take on responsibility for running a domestic women's professional soccer league as well. We're talking about an entity that is having a difficult enough time getting professional men's soccer established for the long, long-term on the North American pro sports landscape. Now, MLS is going to take on the task of launching and sustaining a women's pro circuit, too? Not likely. The reason that such a relationship has worked out for the NBA and WNBA (albeit, barely) is because the NBA is an established sports presence in this nation, the likes of which MLS has not yet become. No offense to MLS... but it is just not on the same level (revenues generated, media coverage/support, mainstream acceptance) as the NBA.

    As for af2, I'd expect that you'd want more stability for a re-launched WUSA than this minor-league, indoor niche-sport "enjoys". Overall membership stability has been spotty at best. The line-up of teams has been as mercurial as the 1980s-era cast of Saturday Night Live. Not exactly a run-away success in terms of stability or star-power. Sure, the league has got franchises located all over the country. Next season, the league will have franchises located throughout the USA again... just not in all of the same cities. This is the "incredible shrinking league". Frankly, as much as the AFL wants to see it succeed as some sort of pseudo-farm system and small-market advertising campaign for the parent league, af2 is on borrowed time.

    Finally, the new national cricket league? You're referring to ProCricket, correct? Well, I... uh... oh, my...


    Sorry about that. It's difficult to slap my knee, wipe my eyes and type at the same time. Hoo boy. That's rich.
  9. billf

    billf Member+

    May 22, 2001
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think there's a simple explaination for why WUSA failed. They spent too much money on something for which there was liitle to no market. Americans turn out for big events, especially when the US team wins, that's why they 99 wwc did well. Having 100,000 people in the seats for several Rose Bowl games during the 1994 world cup was no more indicative of MLS attendace than the wwc was, especially when you look at the actual attendances of most WNT games that are not part of the world cup. In short, they either assumed a market was there when its existence was tenuous at best or assumed they could create demand simply by showing up.

    A sport like soccer, men's or women's, is not going to get a TV deal that provides half its revenue. The NHL has been around for over 75 years and is in 24 US markets and the TV deal it got before the lockout wasn't much better than MLS. Both hockey and soccer survive on gate reciepts. That means teams need to sell tickets. This is not the same as marketing. Marketing alone won't put butts in the seats. Most people breeze right through commercials they don't have an interest in. What teams need to do is do what my Philadelphia Flyers season ticket person did. She called me and offered be options. She make things personal and followed up. She did what she could to get me in the seat.

    I also disagree that TV makes people stay home. Who did it make stay home on a Saturday afternoon? The games were in four markets a weekend and almost no one watched. At least having the games on TV gives the league some credibility. What hurt is that they over sold and never came close meeting what was claimed. In Philadelphia, the Charge played in Villanova which is a good way outside of the city and a long trip west for much of the market used to going down to south philly. Local TV at least got them in front of a few people and they did a good job of using Mitts' and Fair's sex appeal to sell them as serious celebrity athletes. Still, its soccer which has a limited appeal athletically for most people.

    Finally, the W-League is not going to be a substitute. I don't know if you've ever had experieces with the W-League or PDL, but there are some major discrepancies between how teams are run. Some are good, others struggle. Plus, the W-League functions like the PDL. The players aren't paid and the rosters are mainly U-19s and U-23s playing between college seasons. The same NCAA restrictions that keep the PDL amateur, keeps the W-League amateur. There were pros in the W-League last year, but they have to pay them is a way that preserves the NCAA elligibility of the college and high school players.

    I'm sure a new league could work long term, but it would have to start much smaller and grow slow to build an audience. The leagu would have to grow before more people can see the appeal of a league matchup compared to that of a high profile national team match. That means people are going to have to be fans of the sport first and I think its possible to enjoy watching the national team once in a while and not really care much for the sport on another level.
  10. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    Wow! Reading this, I'm certain that the published demise of WUSA was a government hoax ( damn Bush! ) and if I would only look around, I could still buy tickets to the guerilla WUSA matches.

    It seems that posters here are splitting into two factions, those who have a hundred excuses for the failure and those who offer a plan. While I appreciate that koppite's plan has some flaws, at least it offers some good ideas for growing the sport. All the whining in the world won't do that.
  11. Morris20

    Morris20 Member

    Jul 4, 2000
    Upper 90 of nowhere
    Washington Freedom
    I recall someone complaining about gloating . . .

    Anyway, the lesson people SHOULD (IMNSHO) take from WUSA is . . .
    • There IS a market for pro women's soccer at the top level (about 10,000 per game if it's marketed well and played in appropriate venues).

    • The market could grow with a rational (or even irrational) marketing plan that targets people who actually go to sporting events regularly (as opposed to families with small children, who don't).

    • We can attract outstanding foreign players and top coaches to a pro league for women in this country.

    • You can't have more people in the front office than you've got on the field and make money with a new league.

    • It would be to US Soccer's advantage to continue contribute to a women's pro league because it is cost effective versus paying 40 women to be "pool players" in month-long training camps.
  12. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    You're paying more attention than I am. I am certain that I said something at one time about gloating. but I've forgotten the subject and context. I'm getting ready for vacation and don't have time to research my own posts, so I'll count on you to remind me.

    Anyway, once again I think that we might be in agreement. I hope that we will continue to attempt to establish a women's professional soccer league. All your suggestions are excellent, but I'd like to add something to this one.

    " The market could grow with a rational (or even irrational) marketing plan that targets people who actually go to sporting events regularly (as opposed to families with small children, who don't). "

    People who actuallly go to sporting events like beer. :)
  13. Morris20

    Morris20 Member

    Jul 4, 2000
    Upper 90 of nowhere
    Washington Freedom
    (I've snipped a lot here)

    Dude . . . we've gotta stop agreeing like this . . . and (this is hard to spit out) the beer swillers are a key part of this demographic (there I agreed again with you, I need a drink now)
  14. Delta Blues

    Delta Blues New Member

    Jun 25, 1999
    King Willieville
    Just have expectations at an A-League, or PDL level to start with and grow into something bigger.

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