Kang: Multi-club ownership good for women's game


Washington Spirit’s majority owner Michele Kang has said she believes multi-club ownership is the best way to develop women’s football after acquiring English Championship side London City Lionesses.

Kang’s influence in women’s football has grown in recent years. She gained ownership of Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2022 and purchased a controlling stake in French giants Lyon in February 2023.

In December, she acquired London City Lionesses, the only independent women’s football club in the top two tiers of English women’s football.

On Thursday, she announced four major developments, including the appointment of former Paris Saint-Germain coach Jocelyn Prêcheur and Sweden international Kosovare Asllani as the first of seven new signings with the aim of wining promotion to the top tier, the Women’s Super League (WSL).

Kang echoed her previous statements that multi-club ownership is imperative to developing women’s football.

“I am fully aware of sort of a negative connotation of multi-club, especially in the men’s side, because on the women’s side, no one had multi-club ownership before,” she told a news conference in London on Thursday.

“But I will submit to you that on the women’s side, multi-club is the necessity not of luxury or greed because we need to invest to professionalise women’s football to the level that they deserve. And the potential that women’s football has, we need to invest.

Unfortunately, women’s football right now, because of the lack of media dollars, there isn’t that much money to invest.

Kang admitted that when she took over the Spirit two years ago, she learned that the team borrowed their training manual from the men’s training manuals.

She touched on how a lack of tailored coaching methods and research can contribute to injuries and a lack of understanding of adaptions needed in the women’s game.

However, the research is challenging to fund due to the lack of an economically lucrative structure in women’s football.

She said her multi-club model will prove to change this.

“Taking care of our players scientifically and medically is our number one priority. So, for you to do that for one team, for example, it’s not possible, right?” she said.

“Because it takes a lot of money, and no women’s football team right now makes money, let alone losing a lot of money. So for you to do the level of investment on issues like that, if you have multi-team, then you can pull the resources and do it once at the central level.

“This is almost a necessity for women’s teams. This is not to say, my God, we own a multi-team, and everyone else exists to make one team successful. I get questions about if Lyon and Spirit and London City play [each other], who are you gonna cheer for? My answer is: let the best team win.

“We are not going to sacrifice one team to make another team successful. Absolutely not.

“Our goal is to make every team the champion in each of the leagues. So London City, we’re going to do everything in our part to be the champion in the WSL. Lyon, clearly, Spirit and all the future teams. So this is not to make one team successful, like some of the common models that you see on the men’s side. This is to make every team successful. So we are not going to steal or move players around so that one team is gonna be better than the others.”

When asked about the importance of multi-club structures, she said: “We need to build women’s sports at scale, and this is the only way we can build scale because we don’t have a billion dollar media contracts coming through or a hundred million dollar sponsorship and so forth.”

In order to give London City Lionesses the best chance at promotion to the WSL to become English champions, the club will partner with Bromley FC.

The 5,000-seat stadium will house all of the Pride’s home games in south London, moving away from their former home, Princes Park in Dartford — which is located just outside the English capital — formerly criticised for its lack of facilities.

Kang said her rationale was to move the club closer to London without venturing too far away from their local fan base.

They have also acquired the training ground, which the club has been using on a rental basis. Kang disclosed her plan to have an architect transform the 23-acre training ground to be similar to the industry-leading facilities at Lyon and the Spirit.

She said her goal is not just to create the best facilities in the women’s game but to set a new standard for football, aiming to match the quality of men’s facilities.

While detailing her plans for the club’s future, Kang revealed that Asllani will be one of six new faces to join London City Lionesses for the 2024-25 season.

Reflecting on her earlier comments promoting multi-club ownership, she added that data from Kang’s other clubs had aided the recruitment process.

“One advantage [to mutli-club ownership] is now there is a network among the peers across three teams, so they can always talk to one another,” she said.

“Actually, during the recruiting, all that process, we compare our notes in terms of the analytic models and so forth. So they have peers, they can always reach out to each other, they can learn best practice from each other.”



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