The ongoing saga between Washington Spirit majority owner Steve Baldwin, club founder Bill Lynch and minority Spirit investor Y. Michele Kang has taken another drastic turn as 2022 NWSL season approaches.
After increased pressure via a letter from 17 of the Spirit's minority investors to consider a reported $35 million offer from Kang to buy the club, Baldwin pursued a sale of the franchise to billionaire Todd Boehly -- whose reported offer was considered inferior at $25 million. The current negotiations between Baldwin and Boehly spearheaded the letter initially, and with the Feb. 1 deadline for players to report to markets for preseason, pressure for Baldwin to complete an eventual sale of the club in the imminent future is mounting.
In a last-gasp twist, Kang, according to The Athletic on Tuesday, has managed to obtain majority control of the club, 52%, after convincing eight of the franchise debt-holders to convert the debt to equity, ultimately gaining the right to vote on governance matters -- such as the possible sale of a club.
The recent news is just the latest in the move the latest in a long back-and-forth between Baldwin, Lynch and Kang. While no legal action has appeared to take place, the potential is there with the lingering inter-fighting. Exclusive negotiations between Baldwin, Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly, a group headed by Los Angeles Lakers, Sparks, and retail executive Jennifer Tepper Mackesy stem back to December, and the recent report names Devin Talbott as the target debt-holder to back Kang.
The Spirit announced Talbott as head of a new investor group a year ago in February and is the founder and managing partner of Enlightenment Capital, a D.C.-area investment group. According to The Athletic, "Talbott sold his stake in the team in the form of his note," as seven others did not sell stake, but converted their debt to equity, with a commitment to Kang, leaving her as the majority investor -- and owning more individual shares than Baldwin or Lynch. As it stands, Kang now reportedly controls 52% of the voting control.
Kang has also issued a letter to the NWSL Board of Governors, per Molly Hensley-Clancy of the Washington Post, further explaining the transitional shift in ownership, and confirming the purchase and conversion of Talbott's note.
Kang recognizes that there is the possibility of legal action down the line saying, "Steve [Baldwin] and Bill [Lynch] may object and force legal action, but the governance issues are clear." Should Baldwin and Lynch take that path instead of moving forward with Kang, it will be another piece of continued off-field turmoil for the franchise.