The fallout from U.S. Soccer’s investigation done by Sally Yates/King & Spalding has begun for the Portland Thorns and Portland Timbers.
In light of the findings and revelations shared in the investigation’s report released yesterday, 107IST, Rose City Riveters, and the Timbers Army released a statement calling for the sale of both the Timbers and Thorns by owner and CEO Merritt Paulson, and for the removal of Timbers General Manager Gavin Wilkinson and Timbers and Thorns president of business Mike Golub from both clubs.
“The time for waiting has passed,” 107IST shared in an official press release. “The toxic culture that allowed these behaviors to exist and continue in our clubs’ organizations runs too long, too deep, and too high.”
“Mike Golub and Gavin Wilkinson have no place in the Timbers and Thorns organization, or in Soccer City, USA,” the statement shared. “And Merritt Paulson and Peregrine Sports need to sell the teams.
A Joint Statement on Behalf of the 107IST, Rose City Riveters, and Timbers Army About USSF’s Release Results of the Sally Yates’ Independent Investigation - https://t.co/uQu4DUG2E3#BAONPDX #RCTID pic.twitter.com/HTZGV7uMnp— 107ist (@107ist) October 4, 2022
In addition, it was announced that the leadership of 107IST, Timbers Army, and Rose City Riveter are suspending relations and communications with club leadership for the foreseeable future.
“At this point and for the foreseeable future, the leadership of the 107IST, Timbers Army, and Rose City Riveters are suspending relations with the Portland Timbers and Thorns Football Club while the leadership team includes Merritt Paulson, Mike Golub, and Gavin Wilkinson,” the press release shared.
This is a marked change from the relationship between the supporters groups’ leadership and club leadership to date. Over this past year, as the investigations into the club’s actions were ongoing, 107IST stayed in contact with club leadership in order to facilitate dialogue around the changes the club was implementing in light of last year’s revelations around the actions of Paul Riley, and the subsequent fallout.
“[O]ur members have told us repeatedly that they wish for us to remain in conversation with club leadership. Keep going to meetings. Keep the dialogue going,” 107IST shared.
Now, those lines of dialogue have ceased. “Having read the investigative report and its conclusions, however, we don’t see a way forward anymore.”
107IST (107 Independent Supporters Trust) is the non-profit organizing arm of the Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters supporters groups, and the umbrella under which both groups sit.
107IST has held multiple town halls and meetings with club leadership within the past year, which has included dialogues with Paulson and Wilkinson, among others in club leadership. In each of those interactions, the 107IST leadership remained “cautiously optimistic”. But after the revelations of the Yates investigation, it has become clear to the supporters groups that what they were told in those meetings did not align with the whole truth.
“[R]eading the report highlighted the multiple bold-faced lies we were told, both in meetings and in town halls,” the 107IST press released declared. “They said they couldn’t speak freely until the investigation results were public... Well, we honored that request. The results are in. And those results are far worse than even the initial reports had indicated.”
The impact of this move may be significant for game operations and atmosphere at the upcoming Thorns playoff NWSL semifinal on October 23 at Providence Park, and for any potential Timbers home MLS Cup playoff game. Communication between the supporters groups and the club is what enables things such as TIFO displays and the coordination of capos and chants within the stadium to take place.
Now, due to revelations of the report and actions by club leadership, those staples of the atmosphere at Providence Park may be absent in the biggest games of the year.
It remains to be seen what the club’s response to this stance will be. As of 24 hours after the release of the USSF/Yates report, there still has been no official statement from the Timbers and Thorns organization.
What is very clear now is where the largest designated supporters groups of PTFC stand.
As the press release shares: “It’s time to build a bonfire.”
You can read the full press release from the 107IST here.