Merritt Paulson to sell Portland Thorns, maintain ownership of Portland Timbers
Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Thorns and Portland Timbers, is selling the Thorns, he
announced Thursday morning.
Paulson will give his first exclusive, 1-on-1 interview regarding his decision to sell the
Portland Thorns, on John Canzano’s “Bald Faced Truth” radio show on 750 The Game. The
interview will air at 3 p.m. today on 750-AM and streaming here.
The club has been immersed in controversy over the past year-plus, since two former Thorns
players went public in September 2021 with allegations that former coach Paul Riley sexually
abused and coerced them over multiple seasons with multiple teams, including Riley’s two
seasons in Portland in 2014-15.
Paulson resigned as CEO of the Portland Timbers and Thorns on Oct. 11th, following the firings
of general manager Gavin Wilkinson and President of Business Mike Golub.
An independent investigation by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates,
commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation, found Paulson was made aware of the
allegations into Riley’s behavior as head coach, but downplayed the allegations. Paulson
publicly thanked Riley after his contract was not renewed following the 2015 season, and
endorsed him as a coaching candidate to other teams in the league.
“The past year has been a challenging one for our Club and our players,” Paulson said in a
statement. “I regret the role our organization played in the failures identified by the
investigations. Despite these challenges, the Portland Thorns have a bright future ahead and a
lot left to accomplish.
To fully realize that potential, I believe it is in best interest of the Thorns to have a new owner so
that the Club can operate at the league level with a fresh voice to be a driving force for the
NWSL. This has been a difficult decision for me, but I believe this is the best way to position the
Thorns for continued success during this next chapter of the NWSL and the sport.”
Paulson will continue to own the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer.
Paulson will expand on his decision to sell the Thorns, his reaction to the investigations and
their findings, and his role in finding the right fit for the next owner of the Thorns, in an exclusive
interview with John Canzano on 750 The Game. The conversation airs at 3 p.m. You can
stream it live here, or find it as a podcast here after its airing.