NWSL News: OL Groupe officially becomes Reign FC majority owner

OL Groupe Reign FC NWSL

Tacoma, Washington — The OL Groupe is officially the majority owner of Reign FC. OL Groupe is the same organization that owns and operates Olympique Lyonnais in France. Regarded as one of the greatest women’s football clubs, Lyon has won the UEFA Women’s Champions League six times.

Now, OL Groupe has invested in the National Women’s Soccer League. According a press release, OL Groupe will hold a 89.5 percent stake in the club. Remaining part of the ownership group, Bill and Teresa Predmore will hold a 7.5 percent stake. Tony Parker, a former NBA player for the San Antonio Spurs and OL brand ambassador, will hold a 3 percent stake.

Bill Predmore will remain the club’s CEO, per initial talks agreed upon. However, OL Groupe will name a COO early in the new year. According to the Reign, the final transaction will officially go through in January 2020.

Also, Teresa Predmore will stay in her role as the president of Reign Academy.

“As stewards of Reign FC, Teresa and I both understood that when the time came to transition the team to new leadership, we had a duty to ensure that the new owner shared our commitment to the sport, to our league, to our players, to our partners, to our fans, and to our region,” Bill Predmore said. “In OL Groupe we have found a kindred spirit. They share our beliefs, our passions, and our ambitions for building a truly extraordinary soccer club. We are incredibly proud to join the OL family and are confident that under OL’s stewardship the club will continue to grow and prosper on and off the pitch.”

Introductory Press Conference

Members of OL Groupe and Reign FC gathered on Thursday. Meg Linehan, a journalist with The Athletic, shared one of the slideshows presented during the conference.

Predmore suggested that a new head coach will likely be named before the NWSL Draft, which will be held in Baltimore on Jan. 16, 2020. Meanwhile, it was also mentioned that Amandine Henry, a French international who features for Lyon, will join Reign FC during the European offseason this year. Henry featured for the Portland Thorns from 2016-17. She is also the captain of the French National Team.

Finally, the OL Groupe mentioned that a new, soccer-specific stadium, will likely come out of the deal. Right now, Reign FC features at Cheney Stadium, which serves as a Minor League Baseball field, too. It’s also the home of the Tacoma Defiance, who were formerly Sounders 2.

Washington Spirit signs three players

Making the first real moves of the offseason, the Washington Spirit signed three players in the span of two days. Among the signings is Japanese international Kumi Yokoyama.

Yokoyama, 26, arrives to Washington from AC Nagano Parceiro in Japan. She also spent time with the club 2014-17, totaling five seasons. In her five years, Yokoyama scored 99 goals in 144 appearances.

Internationally, Yokoyama has scored 17 times in 43 appearances. She’s been part of the national team program since 2015, but was not part of the World Cup squad. In 2019, she made the World Cup team.

“We are thrilled to bring in another international player of quality to improve our squad for 2020,” Richie Burke, Spirit head coach, said. “Kumi will be a fabulous addition and give us another high caliber option in the attacking zone next season. Looking forward to integrating her into our squad and learning a little bit of Japanese too!”

From Sweden to the Nation’s Capital

Washington also made a pair of signings on Tuesday, bringing in Jessie Scarpa and Jenna Hellstrom. Scarpa featured at the University of North Carolina and then began her professional career in Sweden with Lidkoping FK.

“We had Jess in to train last summer and really wanted to sign her then… the impression Jess made on our staff was sufficient enough for us to closely monitor her progress when she subsequently went to play in Sweden – and the success Jess enjoyed playing professionally overseas only served to confirm that we believe she will be a great addition to our squad for the 2020 NWSL campaign,” Burke explained.

Meanwhile, Hellstrom hails from Kent State University.

She was named the MAC Freshman of the Year after scoring five goals and notching five assists. Hellstrom finished her college career with 37 goals, 33 assists and 107 points. Hellstrom spent her last two and a half years in Sweden. She started her professional career with FC Rosengard in 2017, winning the Ladies Swedish Cup in her rookie year. Then, for the last two seasons, she featured for Djurgårdens IF, Växjö DFF and KIF Örebro.

The Canadian has made four appearances for the national team. She was part of Canada team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“Jenna will certainly fit our style of play and give us plenty of options on both flanks going into the 2020 NWSL season,” Burke said. “She is a welcome addition to the squad and I believe she will flourish in our environment. Jenna is a full Canadian international and the type of player we’ve been looking for to fill our needs in wide areas. She is a strong player who is full of running and someone we have been tracking for a while.”

More NWSL News

  • NO Expansion: The NWSL announced that nine teams will compete in the 2020 season. Expansion talks with Sacramento were ongoing in the offseason and then fell apart. There’s a chance the city could enter the league in 2021. Right now, only Louisville is confirmed. However, in 2020, there will only be nine teams.
  • Doniak to Chicago: On Thursday, the Chicago Red Stars dealt one of their 2021 NWSL Draft picks for Utah Royals FC forward Makenzy Doniak.
  • Freya Coombe named SBFC head coach: After spending time during the end of 2019 as the interim head coach, the temporary tag has been taken off. Freya Coombe is officially the head coach of Sky Blue FC.
  • Julie Ertz named USWNT POTY: Enough said.

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