The ongoing saga between Washington Spirit majority owner Steve Baldwin, club founder Bill Lynch and minority Spirit investor Y. Michele Kang appears to be over as the club announced an official sale of the franchise to Kang on Tuesday. The three owners have been involved in a battle for control over the last several months.
The sale comes after increased pressure and public discourse over Baldwin's control of the team that led to the hiring of former head coach Richie Burke, who was terminated after investigations confirmed he fostered a toxic work environment with abusive language and behaviors. The results of the investigation ultimately led to a new ownership search.
"I personally appreciate, and want to publicly recognize Bill Lynch's pivotal work as the founding owner of the Spirit bringing women's professional soccer back to our nation's capital, and also Steve Baldwin's leadership, vision and formidable drive in building the Spirit and the outstanding roster that won the 2021 NWSL Championship," Kang said in a club statement.
"I am pleased that someone with Michele's commitment to the Spirit will lead the team in its next chapter," Baldwin. added. "I spoke with Michele this morning and told her that Bill and I decided to sell her the team. I sincerely wish her, our wonderful players, and our staff the best."
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Despite Kang's initial efforts to purchase the team, Baldwin's search for new ownership led to a months-long back-and-forth between majority and minority owners as Baldwin attempted to enter exclusive negotiations with Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and retail executive Jennifer Tepper Mackesy back in December. A possible deal for $25 million was reportedly on the table, significantly less than the $35 million Kang was offering.
The NWSL preseason is underway and the Spirit now have a new ownership group in place as the team begins its title defense after winning the 2021 NWSL Championship. Kang and co. have already included a new vision for the team, a mantra that reads "Premier, Professional and Proudly DC," with a locally based, female-led ownership group that is committed to substantial new investments into the team's staff, operations and infrastructure.
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