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Utah Royals FC back to Kansas City? It’s reportedly a possibility

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Utah Royals FC midfielder Gunnhildur Jonsdottir, Houston Dash midfielder Christine Nairn and Utah Royals FC midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta all go up for a header at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, May 11, 2019.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Just over three years ago, the National Women’s Soccer League arrived in Utah when a franchise that was previously in Kansas City was purchased by Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen.

Now, the franchise, known as Utah Royals FC, could be headed back to the Midwest.

Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that a group led by Chris and Angie Long could purchase the franchise from Hansen and move it back to its original location.

The Athletic was first to report the news.

Hansen is in the process of trying to sell Utah Soccer Holdings, the entity that owns RSL, URFC, the Real Monarchs, Rio Tinto Stadium and Zions Bank Real Academy, after he got embroiled in controversy over the summer because of numerous reported instances of racism and sexism.

Should a buyer from Utah purchase Utah Soccer, it would likely increase the chances that the clubs all stay in the Beehive State together, but outside purchases could lead to relocations.

Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith was reported to be the frontrunner to purchase RSL, although it’s unclear if that is still a possibility, especially after he became the majority owner of the Utah Jazz last month.

URFC has been one of the more progressive clubs in the NWSL since Hansen purchased it and there is a relatively good fan base, although success on the field has not followed and the roster and coaching staff face a great deal of uncertainty with just over two months to go before the 2021 season begins.

FC Kansas City, which the franchise was previously known as, struggled financially, although the city has a solid women’s soccer fan base.

The Athletic first reported that Hansen has until Jan. 8, 2021, to sell RSL before Major League Soccer gets involved in the transaction, although no such scenario exists for URFC with the NWSL.