Portland Thorns FC now have new owners. RAJ Sports, led by Lisa Bhathal Merage and Alex Bathanl, announced their official takeover of the team from Peregrine Sports LLC, thus gaining controlling ownership by the Thorns.
Lisa Bhathal Merage will be the controlling owner and the NWSL Governor, while Alex Bhathal will be the NWSL Alternate Governer.
Peregrine Sports, owned by Merritt Paulson, had been subject to a NWSL investigation which led to the sale of the Thorns by Paulson and his group.
Bhathal Merage also released a statement about the opportunity that has now come about for RAJ Sports.
“This is a milestone day for our family, and for the amazing Portland community. As fans ourselves, and as seasoned sports and real estate operators, we believe in the future of Portland and the NWSL, and in the tremendous opportunity that surrounds this iconic team.” said Lisa Bathal Merage. She continued on to state that the group looked “forward to working with the Timbers throughout this transition and beyond to ensure the continued success of the Thorns at Providence Park.”
The Thorns will continue to play at Providence Park, despite being under new ownership as the the team is under a lease until 2035 there.
Thorns FC will continue to play their games at Providence Park. The team is under a lease through 2035 at the downtown Portland stadium.
The announcement followed a formal vote last week by the NWSL Board of Governors to approve the sale. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“This is an exciting day for the NWSL and our continued growth as we welcome this exceptional new ownership group,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman in the same press release. “Portland Thorns FC is an iconic club, supported by some of the best fans in sports, and I’m thrilled to welcome Lisa and Alex to the NWSL board.”
This now concludes what had been a difficult time for the Thorns behind the scenes as they looked to move on from Paulson’s influence and past behaviours. It remains to be seen how exactly RAJ Sports will handle the team moving forward, but the sale of the team is the right step forward, given all that was uncovered during the NWSL investigations.