The Curious Case of the Sale in the Nighttime

Ryan Clarke has a new piece at the O talking about the Thorns players pushing for a dedicated training facility and grass at the Civic.

So far as that goes, fine.

Here’s what bugs me about it; the FO spokesperson’s reply:

“Owner Merritt Paulson has committed to investing in a Thorns training facility and is moving the process forward whether a buyer for the team has been identified yet or not. Requirements for the facility are space for one turf and one grass field, in addition to indoor space for a gym, offices, locker room, rehab facilities, dining area and other necessary amenities.”

Emphasis mine.

What happened to the Strong Group?

They seemed pretty “identified” back in 2022. Why even include that line, if, indeed, Peregrine is in negotiation with them?

I hate being paranoid like this, but the secrecy and opacity of the whole sale business is getting to me.

If, as we hope, the sale is in process, why not send your spox out to say something line “…moving the process forward in concert with the prospective buyer(s).“?

Like I said; I really hate being so skittish. But Paulson, plus the blackout, have got me being like this. Ugh.

Anyway, talk me down off the ledge in the comments!

John Lawes
Latest posts by John Lawes (see all)

4 thoughts on “The Curious Case of the Sale in the Nighttime

  1. I’ve been meaning to respond to this, but with family in town and the start of the WC things have been quite chaotic! I don’t think I’m gonna help with the “talk me down” part though, hah!

    The cynical, but slightly more hopeful part of me thinks that’s MP still trying to push to make sure everyone knows it’s HE, THEE MERRITT PAULSON who is getting this large project off the ground for the Thorns, regardless of the new owners coming in. HE wants the credit, so it’s like him basically telling everyone, “I’m not doing this because I’m selling, I’m doing this because I am MP, lover and supporter of women’s soccer” Just another opportunity for him to do PR for himself…

    The other part of me, which is less hopeful thinks it’s a little bit of both. Both MP being MP with the PR part, but also that the sale has stalled for whatever reason. MP knows the valuation of women’s soccer/the NWSL/this club in particular are going to rise after the WC, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was part of his bargaining plan. In particular, this club has thee potential world class breakout young striker on the team, as well as some other big names.

    Having our GM and our GK coach at the WC doesn’t help things move faster…not because they’re part of the business end of the sale, but because if new owners need to conduct interviews or have chats with either, they have to now wait until after the WC. The window for doing this at the right time is getting smaller, though. The offseason will come quickly (mid-Nov is 3.5 months away), and we will have a ton of business to conduct, irrespective of the whole sale part. Multiple big contracts will be up. Potentially multiple big retirements requiring scouting/big replacements. A double expansion draft. A college draft. All that, on top of a sale? Woof! Would have been nice to get new owners in now, get new staff settled, so the focus could turn to that side of it when the offseason is inevitably at our doorstep. Hardly seems like any business is happening right now with this lame duck ownership/FO and I feel a bit weary as the days and months tick closer to offseason with nothing at all happening (not even contract renewals…)

    In the most recent episode of Soccer Made In Portland, Ryan and Chris discuss the lack of news re: the sale. They don’t really have any new info, except they did say word going around the league was that Chicago was further along with the process than the Thorns. This was followed by a fun little conversation from Chris about how ridiculous it was that Chicago- one of the worst NWSL markets historically has had more movement than the Thorns- the safest, most profitable club in the whole league. I’m trying to remain optimistic that’s why our sale would actually take the longest. We have so many more components for a new owner to negotiate and get right. I hope MP’s ego doesn’t get in the way of new owners (if they exist) making the decisions about a new training facility. All of those decisions should be made by the party taking over the club, not by the dude on his way out just trying to cling to relevancy. Everything from the final site choice, to the design and construction should not be made by Paulson….

    1. Something interesting to add to this also….looks like according to the team’s social media, they are practicing at the Nike World headquarters today. A beautiful setting, with really nice grass fields….wondering what the reasoning for that is. Maybe because they’re traveling to LA this weekend and will be playing on grass fields, and they’re being given an opportunity to adjust to a grass surface ahead of time? Maybe some movement or recognition of the several Thorns players who’ve spoken out about the turf recently? Either way, nice for them….

      1. I think you got the answer to this at Stumptown; it was because the Timbers and opponents were using the Civic. Nike is very weird about access. It’d be nice if the Thorns could use it regularly, but I wouldn’t expect that. Knight is kind of a dick that way…

    2. The Chicago thing doesn’t actually surprise me, for a couple of reasons:
      1) Whisler has shit the bed worse that Merritt. He can’t possibly hang on; he’s too deeply implicated in both the whole Rory Dames mess as well as the overall penny-inching cheapness that lost the team so many promising players. Paulson CAN sell; Whisler MUST sell, and ASAP or the league is likely to put the blocks to him.
      2) The externals are way, WAY simpler in Chicago. The Red Stars don’t share a lease with the Fire…or anything ELSE with the Fire. It’s a pretty straightforward swap.

      And I think we as fans tend to over-estimate how wonderful we are.

      It’s a long time ago, but MP’s reception here got pretty ugly, with him breezing in, cocky rich-kid style, to announce himself as Savior of Soccer, which went over grrrreat with the TA, who responded with all the courtesy of the TA, so the bad blood started there and has never really disappeared. The Riley scandal just transferred that over to the Thorns side, and made him even less inclined to cater to the fans. I think we’re seen as a noisy nuisance to an owner cadre who just want our money, not our opinions.

      Any buyers are going to get an earful – ARE getting an earful – of that as part of the negotiations.

      Whatever those negotiations even are, if they are.

      I do agree that the training site should be something for the new ownership. But right now? I’m not sure what or when that will be…


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