Why did Portland Timbers cut ties with their seven-figure kit sponsor?

The Portland Timbers, one of the prominent clubs currently playing in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer, kicked off the new MLS season with a victory in their opening game against the Colorado Rapids, securing a 4-1 scoreline. With this strong start to the season, the Timbers are brimming with confidence as they prepare to face D.C. United in their upcoming home tie.

On November 15, 2023, the Portland Timbers announced their new front-end jersey sponsors. DaBella, a homegrown firm, joined hands with the Timbers in a multi-year deal as their new kit sponsor. This collaboration began on a positive note, with the Timbers securing a victory in their first match of the season.

Portland Timbers drop their jersey sponsor due to sexual harassment

The occurrence of a significant partnership like this is always expected to yield higher profitability for both firms. The deal was finalized on November 15, 2023, following a thorough pre-deal vetting procedure conducted by the Timbers and a third-party firm.

However, on February 23, 2024, a court filing went public, with Donnie McMillan Jr. facing accusations of sexual harassment from three of his former employees, as reported by The Oregonian.

After this news went live on Wednesday, the Timbers terminated their club’s partnership with DaBella with an immediate effect. After learning about this accusations against the CEO of DaBella, Portland Timbers released a statement.

“The Timbers and a third-party firm conducted a thorough pre-deal vetting process, and the club did not learn of the filing until Feb. 27. This decision was rooted in the responsibility we have to our fans, supporters, partners and employees to transparently reflect and uphold the values and expectations of our community.”

However the lawsuit that was filed against Donnie McMillan Jr. does not accuses him of sexual harassments. The lawsuit was filed by his former CFO Lowell Swartz where he claims that the company owes him money after he was fired in 2022. It is the legal maneuvering over those claims that might expose McMillan’s sexual misconduct towards his female employees.

Portland Timbers fans are outraged over jersey sponsorship cut

The CEO of Portland Timbers, Merritt Paulson who was accused by Portland Thorns players for sexual misconduct, had to resign as the owner of Portland Thorns which was a sister-club of Portland Timbers. According to the reports, Paulson and the coach Paul Riley tried to sexually abuse their players. That incident was still fresh in the minds of many fans, and now with the DaBella partnership, the unfortunate happened again.

This news shook the fans of the Portland Timbers to a great extent. Some fans expressed that “they were swift and quick to end the partnership,” while others voiced their disappointment regarding the vetting process, stating, “With a history of such sexual misconduct towards women, the Timbers should have executed their vetting process more effectively to avoid situations like these.”

Fans hope that the club avoids falling into such situation in the future and become a successful club to be proud of.


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