October 27, WPS announced that the Board of Governors of Women’s Professional Soccer voted to terminate the controversial magicJack franchise, owned by Dan Borislow and based in Boca Raton, Florida. Despite the turmoil in WPS, the press released stated that WPS “has plans to make 2012 the most competitive and successful season to date.”
Although WPS appears to be left with only five franchises – Philadelphia Independence, Boston Breakers, Western New York Flash, Atlanta Beat and Sky Blue FC – 2012 expansion could be expected. At the end of July, Independence owner David Halstead told Examiner that WPS was in talks with five or six potential West Coast markets and that five MLS markets – Seattle, Dallas, Vancouver, Portland and Toronto – had interest in fielding a team.
MagicJack’s brief, tortured history
Borislow purchased the Washington Freedom in November 2010, moved them to Florida and rebranded them as “magicJack” to promote his Internet telephone device. The commercial, oddly capitalized name “magicJack” immediately jarred the sensibilities of soccer fans and the move alienated longtime Washington, DC supporters.
Borislow paid his players more than the other teams could afford to, but failed to hire a staff or trainer, maintain a functional website and eventually released his coach and began to act as coach himself, without an assistant. After he failed to meet WPS contractual obligations by not displaying sponsor field boards, allowing post-game press access to players or submitting match video to the League, on May 14, WPS sanctioned Borislow for breach of contract and inappropriate conduct. The magicJack had a point deducted from the standings and was billed by the League who arranged vendors to conduct the necessary work.
In an email to All White Kit, Borislow referred to WPS executives as “infidels” and the vendors as “organized crime.”
On August 3, WPS attempted to terminate magicJack at the end of the season for failure to meet contractal obligations and Borislow responded by asking a Florida court to bar the League from that action.
“Mr. Borislow has failed to honor his commitments to the detriment of the League, our players and our partners, said the League statement. “From unprofessional and disparaging treatment of his players to failure to pay his bills, Mr. Borislow’s actions have been calculated to tarnish the reputation of the League and damage the League’s business relationships.
Mr. Borislow’s many contractual breaches more than justify any decision by the League to terminate his franchise.”
Borislow responded with inflammatory rhetoric that can be found here.
After the formal complaint from players, Borislow was banned from the sidelines. Abby Wambach, returning from Women’s World Cup Germany, was asked to assume the role of player-coach and led magicJack to the WPS Semifinal, where they were defeated 2-0 by Philadelphia Independence.
Seven prominent U.S. Women’s National Team players – Hope Solo, Jill Loyden, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn, Shannon Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley and Abby Wambach – were rostered by magicJack and now likely will be looking for new teams.
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