Disney CEO Bob Iger and Willow Bay close to purchasing controlling stake in NWSL club Angel City FC: Reports

Iger and Bay will replace Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian as majority owner of the team, which is worth a reported $300 million

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 30: The banner held up in honor of Pride Night prior to the game between the Angel City FC and the Orlando Pride at BMO Stadium on June 30, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Iger and Bay attended ACFC's home match against the Orlando Pride at BMO Stadium on Sunday. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

One of the NWSL's newest teams might be getting a new owner. Disney CEO Bob Iger and his wife Willow Bay, who is dean of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, are close to purchasing a controlling share of Angel City FC, according to multiple reports.

With the purchase, Iger and Bay would replace current majority stakeholder and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Semafor and Puck first reported the story Tuesday night, with The Athletic confirming on Wednesday morning.

Ohanian released a statement later Wednesday denying that any of his shares in the team were for sale, but acknowledged he didn't control the team's board of directors.

Angel City FC is currently valued at an estimated $250 million, up from $180 million just last fall, per Sportico. Per reports, Bay and Iger are expected to invest an additional $50 million, raising the value of the club to more than $300 million.

Iger and Bay attended ACFC's home match against the Orlando Pride on Sunday, per Kamran Nia of the Sporting Tribune. Angel City lost the game, 3-0.

Founded in 2020, ACFC has a large and impressive ownership group. The group is led by actress Natalie Portman, venture capitalist Kara Nortman and entrepreneur Julie Uhrman in addition to Ohanian. A slew of big names, including Billie Jean King, Jennifer Garner, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and former USWNT stars like Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach and Julie Foudy, make up the large cluster of minority ownership investors.

There were previous reports Ohanian had been looking to sell his stake since last fall, after being unhappy with the amount that the team is spending. Although Angel City made a reported $31 million in revenue last year — almost twice as much as the next-best team — it also spent more than any other team in the league.

Angel City has a fairly strong roster, including USWNT stars Sydney Leroux and Christen Press, and rising star Alyssa Thompson. The club has seen some success in three seasons, rocketing to an unexpected playoff spot last season. However, the team is currently in 11th place in the league, with a 4W-3D-8L record so far.

The LA Times reported in March that the four owners had voted to hire strategic investment firm Moelis & Co to find an investor that would take control of the board. Per the LA Times, although Ohanian is the largest individual shareholder, he does not have majority equity or board control by sharing power with Portman, Nortman and Uhrman, which gives him little control over how the money is spent.

Ohanian's wife, tennis superstar Serena Williams, and their daughter Olympia are both stakeholders in the club; it is unclear if the two would lose their stakes if the sale goes through.

The group, besides having some notable names, is almost entirely women — a rarity in the world of sports ownership and investment. Additionally, the team hopes to keep growing: Uhrman, the club's president, told The Athletic in January 2023 that she and the group hope to grow the club to a billion-dollar valuation in the next few years.

If the sale goes through, Iger and Bay will be at the forefront of that goal.