Michelle Kang announced on Friday that she… Acquired London City Lionesses FCAn independent club competing in the FA Women’s Championship. The English club is another ‘founding block’ in its vision to grow its global multi-club organisation, having agreed earlier this year to take over OL Feminine and take ownership of the Washington Spirit.
“As you can imagine, if you’re trying to build a preeminent women’s soccer organization, you have to be at the center of gravity,” Kang said. The athlete Before Friday’s announcement. “England is definitely one of them. I was looking for a relegation opportunity and the London City Lionesses were the only independent team, so it was a no-brainer.
Instead of having to convince the men’s club to allow Kang to separate the women’s team from the club structure, Kang was immediately able to jump to the second tier of women’s football in England, focusing on the Women’s Football League.
“Obviously our goal is promotion,” Kang said with a smile.
This independent structure only happened because LCL founder Diane Culligan stepped in to help Millwall a few years ago, as they were struggling to finish the season on the women’s side of operations. Culligan has already proven herself in the youth game independently.
While the independent women’s team model is the norm in the United States and other countries, this is not the case in England, where many teams are associated with top-tier men’s clubs.
“I think it’s fair to say that my ideas and the people who were running the club at the time were not compatible, and that’s when we decided to part ways,” Colligan said. “So the Lionesses of the City of London were born, and we went from there. The only truly independent professional women’s football club in the UK, if we’re talking about the professional game.
The Lionesses currently occupy ninth place in the championship standings, although they finished second and third in the past two seasons. Their head coach is Carolina Moras and home matches are played at Princes Park in Dartford, 18 miles south-east of central London.
“We are in the middle of the season, and we will do everything we can to complete the season as successfully as possible,” Kang said. “We’ll figure out where we can surgically add some help here, resource-wise, without disrupting what they’re doing.”
As was always the plan, the Lionesses will retain their brand and identity even with the acquisition – similar to how Lion and Spirit operate. Adding another team also means another point of justification for more centralized resources across the multi-club organisation. “I can make the kind of investment on a large scale that men’s teams can make,” Kang said.
Kang said in May The athlete Its goal was to add three to five additional teams by the end of 2023. While the Lionesses are the only team it has added this year, conversations are ongoing around the world about potential teams.
“We have some ongoing conversations in Asia; “This will definitely be the first part of next year,” Kang said. “We will try to pick up where we left off.” It is still targeting other European countries and South America, in addition to Mexico, which it indicated on Friday. Kang also said that they have already started talks in Africa.
In the case of London City, Kang wants to balance ending the 2023-24 season with a long-term strategy of not just getting promoted, but becoming a top team in the Premier League, and then winning it. The timing is promising from a business perspective, with the senior divisions moving to an independent structure outside the Football Association and under a new manager in November. Lionesses have to get a promotion to get this reward first, but Kang has shown in the past that she is willing to invest to get this result.
“The NewCo model for the BWSL and BWC is a great example of how we can advance women’s sports in England and globally,” Kang said. “We need more investment focused solely on the women’s game so that resources are not compromised.”
There is also a big example for Kang to consider regarding the possibility of a move to a lower division: Wrexham. There has already been an in-depth narrative about the Championship club being promoted to the WSL, with Liverpool producing 90-minute documentary About their move to the WSL. But it’s hard to ignore the way “Welcome to Wrexham” has helped gain attention and involvement in the lower echelons of English soccer here in the United States, and has also greatly benefited the team’s new ownership.
When asked if that was on her mind, she couldn’t help but laugh before answering: “Absolutely. That’s what we’re here for, and we’re definitely going to write another chapter.”
(Photo: Brad Smith/ISI Images/Getty Images)
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