The purchase of US NWSL women's soccer side Seattle Reign, by a consortium including the owners of the Seattle Sounders men’s team, and global investment firm Carlyle, has received approval from the leagues involved.

The deal, coming in at $58 million, brings Seattle’s men’s and women’s top-division soccer teams under the same ownership once more – as was the case up until 2019, when the Sounders’ owner Adrian Hanauer, sold his minority stake in the Reign.

The consortium now in charge of Seattle Reign has bought control from OL Groupe, which also runs French club Olympique Lyonnais (which has successful men’s and women’s teams). OL Groupe took its majority stake in the Reign five years ago, reportedly for only $3.5 million. Indeed, between 2020 and 2023 the team was called OL Reign.

OL Groupe first announced it would be selling the Seattle outfit in April last year, before unveiling terms of the agreement with the Sounders ownership and Carlyle this March. Now, the deal has been approved by the board of governors for the NWSL and the men’s Major League Soccer (in which the Sounders compete).

Under the new ownership model, Hanauer will serve as governor of Seattle Reign on the NWSL’s board of governors, while Carlyle’s head of credit, Alex Popov, will take the role of alternate governor. Hanauer is also a minority stakeholder in the city’s Seattle Kraken ice hockey team.

Carlyle holds the larger stake in the Reign, but the Sounders will act as managing partner.

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Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, meanwhile, will take the role of chief business officer at Seattle Reign, after most recently serving as chief operating officer at Seattle Sounders. She will take the helm of the Reign’s leadership team from now on, it has been revealed.

Mendoza-Exstrom comes in to replace Vincent Berthillot, an OL Groupe executive who served as the Reign’s CEO from June 2022.

Carlyle, elsewhere in the sporting world, has investments in Italian soccer’s Atalanta, as well as in major agency Infront and sports technology firm Deltatre.

Hanauer has said: “I am a deep admirer of the Reign organization, and alongside our new partners at Carlyle, we are excited to steward this incredible club. Our goal is to be a standard-bearer in global soccer. This means creating a first-class environment for players, staff, and fans while staying authentic to our community.”

Popov added: “We believe there is a massive disconnect between the excitement and engagement around women’s soccer and the level of investment into the leagues, teams, and players that drive this fandom … Reign FC is a storied club that has seen tremendous on-field and off-field success, and we’re committed to being a steward of that success for the team.”

Overall, since being founded in 2012, the Reign have won three NWSL Shield titles. However, they currently sit 13th in the 14-team league, having only secured eight points from 13 games.

The team currently plays at the Lumen Field stadium in Seattle, where in 2023 an NWSL attendance record of 34,130 was set.

Mendoza-Exstrom commented on the deal as well: “The opportunity to lead this club at this important moment where the unique value of women's sports and athletes is being met with investment, interest, and visibility is humbling … My commitment is simple: to accelerate the growth of our business and build our brand and fanbase to meet the opportunity of this global movement in women's sports.”

In March, OL Groupe owner, John Textor’s Eagle Football Group, stated it would utilize the funds from the Reign’s sale to balance the books for the Lyon men’s side.

OL Groupe also had to sell the majority of its stake in its French women’s soccer team, OL Femenin, to concentrate funds on the men’s side. A majority stake in OL Femenin was sold to Michelle Kang, who also owns the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

Elsewhere in the NWSL, it was unveiled in March that San Diego Wave are being sold by their current owner, US businessman Ron Burkle, for a total price of $120 million ($113 million of cash), to the Levine Leichtman investment firm. This represents a record sale price for an NWSL club.