NWSL: Tony Novo is officially out as general manager at Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue FC Tony Novo
PISCATAWAY, NJ - APRIL 30: Sky Blue FC midfielder Raquel Rodriguez (11) battles FC Kansas City midfielder Lo'eau Labonta (9) during the second half of the National Womens Soccer League game between Sky Blue FC and FC Kansas City on April 30, 2017 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Howell, New Jersey (April 10, 2019) — Fans have been demanding action for improvements to Sky Blue FC. This season, their voices were heard. The club announced late Tuesday night that general manager Tony Novo has resigned.

However, looks can be deceiving. Resignation was the word used in Sky Blue FC’s official press release. However, according to The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta, Novo was fired from the organization. This comes one season after terrible conditions for professional women’s athletes were documented by former and current players.

NWSL Roundup: Tony Novo is officially out at Sky Blue FC

Novo promised change and some changes were made prior to the start of the season. Instead of living with host families, players were upgraded to apartments. The team acquired a strength and conditioning coach. Training facilities are expected to be improved this season, with the recent preseason being conducted at the indoor Sportika complex.

According to Pro Soccer USA, Sky Blue FC are even in talks with the New York Red Bulls of MLS — who are based in Harrison, New Jersey — for a couple double-header match ups. That means Sky Blue FC could play at Red Bull Arena.

However, Novo still decided to say that reports given last season were embellished and exaggerated. His firing was called for many months, especially by members of Cloud 9, Sky Blue FC’s official supporters group.

According to Sky Blue’s press release, Novo is going back to work as a residential mortgage lender. Taking over Novo’s role as, becoming interim general manager, is Alyse LaHue, who formerly worked with the Chicago Red Stars. She’s been with Sky Blue FC since last season.

“Tony has been an integral part of the growth of Sky Blue and we appreciate his dedication to the to the team and the sport,” Tammy Murphy, one of the club’s owners, said. “For the past six and a half years, he has been a passionate supporter of professional women’s soccer and has worked tirelessly to get the team to where it is today. We are grateful for his time with Sky Blue and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Reaction from Cloud 9, Tony Novo; more on LaHue

Novo kept his remarks short and simple.

“I am departing Sky Blue with confidence that Alyse will be a strong leader and advocate for the team,” Novo said. 

Novo’s replacement, LaHue, has worked in professional women’s soccer since 2008. According to Sky Blue’s release, LaHue served in a “variety” of roles for the Chicago Red Stars when they competed in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league and the WPSL. She served as the club’s general manager from 2012-16, helping to draft players like Julie (Johnston) Ertz and Danielle Colaprico.

Meanwhile, she also was the general manager for the L.A. Blues (USL-Pro) and Pali Blues of the former W-League, back in 2011. She holds the position of Task Force Chair for the United Soccer Coaches Women’s Membership Group. In addition to that, she is the co-founder of the non-profit group Gonzo Soccer, Girls Soccer & Leadership Academy.

LaHue did not make any official remarks for Sky Blue FC.

Instead, letting out a huge sigh of relief was Cloud 9, the Sky Blue FC supporters group. On the group’s official Twitter account, there were expressions of relief and eagerness to help rebuild the club.

“It’s easy to harp on the timing of this and the language of the release,” Cloud 9 wrote. “But the fact is that Novo is out. It’s what we’ve been asking for since August. We’re not going to quibble on details right now. This is step one. There’s still a lot to be done but we can be more optimistic about the direction of the club. We know the work that [LaHue] has already put into this team & we are confident that she can continue to instill positive changes at SBFC, even if on an interim basis.”

What’s Next?

Cloud 9 said that this is only the start — and they’re right.

Those changes that the Murphy’s promised look to be enacted, but there’s still work to be done. The change in general manager happened only four days until the start of the season. Sky Blue FC kicks off their season on Saturday, traveling down to the Maryland SoccerPlex to face the Washington Spirit at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, Sky Blue will return home, to Yurcak Field to face the Houston Dash on April 20. Beginning at 6 p.m. Sky Blue FC will return in front of their home fans for the first time this season — without Novo in attendance.

 

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