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USA try again to establish professional women's league

US Soccer has announced the formation of a new women's league as officials seek to make it third time lucky in establishing a strong competition that reflects the United States' leading status in women's football, reports SportBusiness. US Soccer said it will play a major role in organising and running the league to ensure a business model with a focus on sustainability.

The announcement comes after Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) folded after three seasons in May. The demise of the WPS followed that of its predecessor, WUSA, which also lasted only three seasons.

The new league, which will launch in the spring, will see US Soccer subsidise the salaries of up to 24 US national team players while the Canadian Soccer Association will do the same for up to 16 Canadian players and the Federation of Mexican Football will do likewise for up to 12 Mexican players.

The eight-team league will commence with teams in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Western New York, New Jersey, Portland, Seattle and Washington, DC.

"The real story today from our perspective is we're starting a league in eight important markets in the US with the participation of the governing bodies and trying to create an economic model that is sustainable," said US Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

"From our perspective, the most important thing is that we've got a commitment from the eight groups we've talked about, a sustainable model - and clearly if one wants to do it is those three federations being the government, we are subsidising the private sector here to try to make it sustainable, to try to make the investments necessary by the private sector smaller."

Gulati said US Soccer has already reached an initial agreement on the first national sponsor for the league, with the organisation in talks with a potential television partner.

He added that US Soccer is determined not to repeat the failings of WPS. On comparisons with the WPS, Gulati said: "They are substantially different. In addition to funding what presumably could be the seven top players of each of these teams… the model is quite different both in terms of the sorts of players that you might go out and get internationally, in terms of the marketing and promotional efforts, and maybe in terms of some of the stadiums.

"What we need is a sustainable model: less hype, better performance. The hype will come if we have the performance. I think immediately you're going to see one of the best leagues in world in the sense that you've got three teams that have qualified for World Cups, have qualified in the last World Cup, and in the case of the US obviously a multi-time medallist."

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Dave Williams

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