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For N.W.S.L., Federal Pandemic Relief Loan Saved Season Lost to Virus

  • July 02, 2020

After consulting with league officials and owners, Baird said she gathered a thousand backup documents — “literally a thousand” — and sat at her computer for six hours to personally submit the application.

“Over 85 percent of our total monthly expenses is player compensation,” she said of the league’s finances. “I didn’t even want to stare at the alternatives. For me, I had to have this happen.”

In important ways, the N.W.S.L. fulfilled the strict qualifications set out by the federal government relief program: A relatively young business, it had fewer than 500 employees; the pandemic had effectively barred its employees from working; and its workers’ incomes, and perhaps careers, could have disappeared altogether if the league had been unable to play matches.

Baird, who has only 16 people on staff to go along with more than 200 players, described the P.P.P. funding as the bridge that allowed them to escape the early danger of the pandemic. (The league’s top players and biggest earners — more than two dozen members of the women’s national team — are paid by U.S. Soccer.)

The loan gave the league the wiggle room to plan an improvised summertime tournament that began last week in Utah and to secure commitments from three new national sponsors. Those new deals, Baird said, will help ensure that players will be paid and get all of their health benefits for the rest of the year.

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