SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Royals have been sold to a capital management group and are moving to Kansas City.
The Royals have been sold to ed by the husband-wife team of Angie and Chris Long and their Kansas City-based Palmer Square Capital Management. The ownership group also includes the wife of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. They will assume all of the player rights, draft picks and other necessary assets from Utah Royals FC.
But according to a statement released by Utah Soccer LLC, NWSL soccer is expected to return to Utah under new ownership in 2023, and retain the Utah Royals name.
The Utah NWSL franchise is winding down its operations after the previous owner, Dell Loy Hansen, agreed to sell it and the Real Salt Lake franchise after racist and toxic allegations were uncovered.
“We love the Utah soccer community and have been honored to work with these world-renowned professional women athletes,” said Hansen in a statement. “We will truly miss our athletes who have become our friends. We lend our full support to new owners who can continue our vision to have the women’s team equal to the men’s team in time, facilities, and resources and who can help shepherd the team into a new era of growth and success.”
“When I first arrived to Salt Lake City three years ago, what stood out was the overwhelming support and excitement from the community,” Utah Royals FC General Manager Stephanie Lee said in a statement. “I hope fans have solace that women’s professional soccer will be back.”
The Royals first came to Utah in 2018 after FC Kansas City folder. They played three seasons here, failing to make the playoffs in its first two seasons, and being eliminated in the first round of the Challenge Cup this past July by Houston.
In 2019, the Royals were second in the NWSL in attendance, averaging 10,777 fans per game.
Utah Soccer LLC now consists of Real Salt Lake and the Real Monarchs. Hansen is being forced to sell those properties by January 8th, or Major League Soccer will take over control of the sale.
Vice President of Soccer Operations Rob Zarkos commented “I would like to thank the players who gave their all to this community, the staff who worked to make it happen and the fans who supported us every step of the way. You are Utah Royals FC.”
The Royals signed renowned U.S. National Team players like Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez. But Sauerbrunn was traded last season, while O’Hara and Press both were dealt within the last few weeks.
In 2019, six URFC players joined their national teams at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, including Katie Bowen (New Zealand), Rachel Corsie (Scotland), Desiree Scott (Canada), as well as O’Hara, Press and Sauerbrunn who earned their second-consecutive World Cup title.
“When reflecting upon the last three years, it is impossible to ignore the staff that gave their commitment and hard work every day,” Lee said. “Striving to not only create an equality and professionally driven environment, but to consistently challenge the League and those around us for stronger ticket sales, more creative sponsorship support, and the will-power to host the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup and become the first professional sports league to return to play.”