One of the topics during MLS All-Star gossip sessions last week was staff reductions at WPS. I don’t regularly cover the country's premier women's league, so I don’t have good sources, but I can say that there were definitely some front-office reductions at league level. One person I’ve dealt with, director of communications Rob Penner, is no longer with the league.
He was pleasant to work with and, from my relatively few dealings with him, good at what he did.
I think comings and goings at clubs and leagues say something about organizations. When incompetent people are kept around, it says bad things; it says the organization “doesn’t get it.”
Similarly, when good people like Penner are being let go, even if the reasons are purely economic, it says something. It says “this whole thing might be in trouble.” What other conclusion can be drawn when, according to reports, league staff is being reduced and responsibilities shifted to individual markets?
(UPDATE: I told you Penner was on top of things. He read this post and emailed to clarify; he remains with the league as a consultant. So he's still advising and working with WPS on PR matters, but in a different capacity.)
WPS attendance is below target at about 3,700 a game. It’s not far below the target … but considering the league’s modest aim of 4,000-6,000 per contest, anything south of the target numbers are problematic.
And this business with
Not all is bad, as WPS pointed out last week. Still ...
If you like your women’s soccer and you live in one of the seven markets, go support your team. Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this league’s viability is far from assured. Good people and a good plan may simply be overmatched by history (damaging arrogance from the former leaders of the women’s game) and current market factors beyond their control.
I continue to hope WPS makes it … but it appears to be on perilously thin ice.