Report: Utah Royals To Rejoin NWSL In 2024

Jun 30, 2022, 11:33 AM
Utah Royals FC forward Christen Press (23) celebrates after scoring a goal as the Salt Lake Royals and Sky Blue FC play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Royals will return to the NWSL in 2024, according to Jeff Kassouf of ESPN.

Real Salt Lake owners David Blitzer and Ryan Smith have both publically stated in January that they plan on bringing the Utah Royals back to Utah. Blitzer was quoted saying that it would be a matter of “when” and not “if” when asked if he hopes to return professional women’s soccer back to the state of Utah.

“Multiple sources told ESPN that “when” will be 2024, as Utah will be one of two new groups expected to join the NWSL. Multiple sources throughout the league are already operating under the assumption of Utah’s return,” the ESPN article reads.

The Royals were founded in 2017 under former owner Dell Loy Hansen before being transferred to Kansas City to form a new expansion team the Kansas City Current in 2020 during the dismissal of Hansen.

When the Royals departed for Kansas City, Real Salt Lake maintained the rights to the name and branding of the Royals while also maintaining the right to bring the club back to Utah in either 2023 or 2024 for an undisclosed fee.

The biggest issue remaining involves the fixed fee to reactivate the franchise. Former NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird and former Royals owner Hansen came to the agreement before NWSL valuations ballooned. Current NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman is working with new Real Salt Lake ownership to come to an agreement on a new and updated fee to reactivate the franchise, according to reports.

“We’re working with them (David Blitzer and Ryan Smith) to figure out what that means,” Berman told ESPN. “The process is underway. There are steps that need to be taken still in order to be in a position to be able to say, yes, in fact, that is happening.”

The Royals experienced great success in Utah, with an average attendance of 10,774 throughout the 2019 season, good enough for second in the league only behind the Portland Thorn. The inaugural game at Rio Tinto Stadium was played in front of 19,203 fans that witnessed a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Red Stars.

No official announcement has been made by the NWSL league office regarding the return of the Utah Royals.


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