The Seattle Sounders are in “advanced talks” to buy OL Reign, according to Sportico, a well-sourced sports-industry publication. The report says that nothing has been finalized and that “talks could still fall apart” but does cite numerous people familiar with the negotiations.
Reached for comment, the Sounders pointedly did not distance themselves from the rumors, while wishing the Reign luck in Saturday's NWSL Championship: "First and foremost, our colleagues at OL Reign have one of the biggest matches in their history this weekend as they seek to bring home the NWSL title. This is a critical time for their team, and we have deep respect for their organization. We have long admired the club since its inception a decade ago. Now isn’t the right time for Sounders FC to comment further on today’s media reports, and we wish OL Reign every success in the NWSL Championship."
While Sounder at Heart has not been able to independently verify any of this, various sources have given this story credence and it closely follows rumors we've been hearing for months. Bill and Teresa Predmore, who were the Reign's original owners and had retained a 7.5% ownership stake after the sale to OL Groupe, appear to be involved in the new bid as well. OL bought an 89.5% ownership stake in 2019 at a $3.51 million valuation, with the remaining 3% bought by Tony Parker.
Sounders, Reign, Oh my!
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It was not immediately clear how much the Reign are being sold for, but Sportico recently set their valuation at $49 million. A report out of France indicated that OL were aiming for a sale at close to €50 million (about $53.5 million) and that they are due to meet with the DCNG – the entity that oversees French football clubs' finances – on Nov. 28, presumably as part of an effort to move the deal forward and get out of financial sanctions. NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman has also indicated they hope to have a deal finalized by the end of 2023.
Assuming these numbers are all correct, OL saw their investment multiply by about 15 times in four years, while the stake retained by the Predmores will have grown to exceed the amount they got from the original sale.
Throughout the Reign's existence, they've maintained a reasonably close relationship with the Sounders. For about a year, Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer even had a partial stake in the Reign, but his shares were bought out when OL came into the picture. More recently, the Reign and Sounders have played two double-headers – in 2021 and earlier this year – and now share Lumen Field. The Reign, who began training at Starfire Sports Complex earlier this year, are due to take over the Sounders' old space there early next year. It was not immediately clear if the Reign could potentially move to Longacres alongside the Sounders.
When asked by Sounder at Heart in September about potentially being involved in the Reign's sale, Sounders President of Business Operations Hugh Weber said this: "The Reign are on the market, and we think of them as partners whether we are officially engaged as part of their group or not. We’re taking an approach of talking to people on how that might fit together and how we might be able to work together, but that’s still up in the air until that process runs its course."