The National Women’s Soccer League has unanimously approved important changes to the structure and makeup of the Washington Soccer Properties ownership group, the entity that manages the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.
This decision comes after the months-long battle for control over the franchise. The fight began in October with fans calling on owner Steve Baldwin to relinquish control of the club after coach Richie Burke was fired for violating the league’s anti harassment policy.
The league’s investigation into Burke revealed a toxic working environment within the NWSL club, prompting fans to demand new leadership.
Minority owner Y. Michele Kang has been attempting to obtain the controlling interest, but Baldwin has previously refused to sell.
Now, the league’s board of governors voted unanimously to allow the Spirit’s non-equity, nonvoting investors, to become shareholders. Their support and Kang’s purchase of other equity stakes puts her in the position to take ownership.
“Our collective focus is to create the best environment for the Washington Spirit players, fans, and team employees, and to operate the NWSL in a manner that supports excellence on the field of play and in front offices around the league.
"Our priority is determining what is in the best interest of the NWSL, Washington Spirit, its players, and the D.C. soccer community,” said the NWSL Board of Governors in a joint statement.
“We believe Y. Michele is fully committed to elevating this club and delivering for its players and it is now a matter for WSP shareholders to determine who holds a controlling interest.
"We are committed to allowing the required ownership process to be resolved in the appropriate, orderly manner. We will provide any additional updates once that process has taken place.”
Players of the Washington Spirit have previously expressed their support for Kang as controlling owner.