NWSL returns to Utah with expansion team for 2024

The Utah Royals will return to the National Women's Soccer League as a 2024 expansion club owned by the same group that owns Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake.

The NWSL and the MLS team owners announced the move on Saturday, restoring a team that went a combined 19-17 with 12 drawn over the 2018 and 2019 seasons before ceasing operations after the 2020 Challenge Cup.

"When we acquired Real Salt Lake last year, we said it was a matter of when, not if, the NWSL would return to Utah," Real Salt Lake owner David Blitzer said.

"This has always been an integral part of our mission. With today's announcement, we are thrilled to fulfill the promise we made to our incredible fan base.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to use our resources and platform to take women's soccer to the next level."

Blitzer's other sports holdings include stakes in English Premier League side Crystal Palace, Bundesliga side Augsburg, Belgian and Portuguese clubs, the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL's New Jersey Devils.

Also among the Royals ownership group is Ryan Smith, owner of the NBA's Utah Jazz.

Michelle Hyncik, Real Salt Lake's general counsel for the past three years, will serve as the Royals president.

The team, which will share a home stadium with Real Salt Lake, becomes the US women's league's 13th club with talk of more expansion before next year's season kicks off.

"We are delighted to welcome Utah Royals FC and its dedicated fan base back into the league,” NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said. "The return of the women’s game to Utah, where soccer roots run deep, is a victory for players and fans alike."