Textor completes Seattle Reign exit as Sounders reunite with an old flame

June 18 – John Textor’s Eagle Football Group has completed the $58 million sale of NWSL side Seattle Reign to the MLS’s Seattle Sounders and private equity firm Carlyle Global Investment.

The deal was first announced in March with Eagle, who had acquired France’s OL Group football club holdings, saying that they were refocusing on the men’s rather than the women’s game.

OL Groupe, owners of Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais, had bought its 97% stake in Seattle Reign in January 2020 for a reported $3.5 million.

“This transaction should enable Eagle Football Group to recognize a capital gain on the sale in the 2023/2024 financial statements, after deducting current account advances committed to the club’s development and the impact of accumulated results since the acquisition of the American franchise in January 2020,” said an Eagle statement.

The sale is the first time the men’s and women’s soccer clubs in Seattle under the same umbrella for the first time since 2019. Then Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer sold his minority stake in the Reign. In the new organisation he will serve as governor on the NWSL board.

The Sounders are joined by US private equity firm the Carlyle Group in the new ownership group. Carlyle Group are understood to be providing the lion’s share of the acquisition cash.

Women’s clubs in the US have dramatically and rapidly increased in value over the past two seasons. San Diego Wave FC, who joined the NWSL as an expansion team in 2022, is halfway through a sale valuing the team between $113 – $120 million.

“It’s all about the potential going forward,” Alex Popov, Carlyle’s head of private credit told ESPN. “And frankly, our starting point was off. You know, that’s what attracted a lot of us to, including ourselves here at Carlyle, to think about investing in women’s sport. We have seen the potential.”

The Reign have been one of the NWSL’s leading clubs since launch in 2013, and despite winning three NWSL Shields, has struggled for financial stability.

In 2022 the team moved to the 68,000-capacity Lumen Field and has averaged crowds of 13,610. Reunited with the Sounders under a single ownership structure, the opportunity to joint market the clubs within the Seattle community is obvious.

Seattle is currently 13th out of 14 teams in the NWSL standings, with all teams having played at least 12 games.

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