Antonucci to leave as WPS commissioner; western N.Y. franchise approved to join women's league
Tonya Antonucci, who oversaw the launch of Women's Professional Soccer but had two franchises fold this year and league operations restructured amid financial problems, will step down as commissioner, several sources close to the situation said Saturday.
Meantime, the Insider has learned that the league's board of governors has approved a western New York franchise to begin play in 2011. WPS is also planning to break from Soccer United Marketing, an arm of Major League Soccer, and pursue an independent marketing deal.
Word of the WPS developments began circulating throughout the U.S. soccer community late in the week.
Antonucci developed the business model for WPS, which kicked off in 2009 as the successor to Women's United Soccer Association (2001-03). Last winter, as expansion teams in Philadelphia and Atlanta were preparing to join the league, the Los Angeles Sol, WPS's most prominent club, shut down. During the season, St. Louis Athletica folded, leaving the league with seven teams. Current investors, including the Hendricks family, which operates the Washington Freedom, have yet to decide whether to continue funding the league, sources said.
WPS spokesman Rob Penner said he had no comment on the Antonucci matter, but did say the league is optimistic that the western New York franchise, which would play in Buffalo and Rochester, will join the league next year.The new franchise has existed as the Buffalo Flash in the second-tier W-League.
Reached via e-mail, Antonucci said she did not want to comment at this time.
September 11, 2010; 7:22 PM ET
Categories: Women | Tags: WPS
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