Michele Kang one step closer to buying Washington Spirit

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The NWSL announced Saturday that its Board of Governors unanimously approved changes to the structure and makeup of the Washington Soccer Properties ownership group, the party that manages the Washington Spirit.

The move clears the way for Michele Kang to take control of the team, with the board of governors authorizing the transfer of additional shares to the Spirit co-owner. The league clarified in their statement that Washington Soccer Properties must conclude that Kang has secured a controlling interest and that the NWSL will not interfere in that process.

The Athletic first reported on Jan. 11 that Kang was inching closer to wrestling control of the Spirit from fellow owners Steve Baldwin and Bill Lynch, convincing the club’s debt-holders to convert that debt to equity. The shift endowed the group with the right to vote on the Spirit’s governance issues, including a potential sale. Kang also bought out several of the smaller co-owner’s shares. Combining the investors who are siding with Kang and her new shares, the pro-Kang coalition within the club has 52% ownership of the club.

Baldwin and Kang have been entangled in a fight for control of the team for months, with investors and Spirit players imploring Baldwin to sell the team to Kang for her above-market offer of $35 million. Before Kang rallied the other co-owners to her cause, Baldwin was in exclusive negotiations to sell the team to a group led by Todd Boehly, who has since withdrawn his offer.

In their statement released on Saturday, the board of governors threw their support behind Kang.

“Our collective focus is to create the best environment for the Washington Spirit players, fans, and team employees, and to operate the NWSL in a manner that supports excellence on the field of play and in front offices around the league,” read the statement. “We believe Y. Michele is fully committed to elevating this club and delivering for its players and it is now a matter for WSP shareholders to determine who holds a controlling interest.”

Washington Soccer Properties will next have to decide if Kang has solidified the support of the voting members to take the helm as the club’s controlling owner.