CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati added two people to their ownership group Wednesday, both with ties to Cincinnati.
Meg Whitman and her partner, Dr. Griff Harsh, were announced as new managing owners after approval by the Major League Soccer Board of Governors.
According to a news release from FC Cincinnati, “The family’s significant incremental capital investment will support the club’s ambitious goals, including the construction of the forthcoming West End Stadium – which is 100 percent privately financed – and the commitment to a winning team.”
Whitman was appointed to serve as the club’s Alternate Governor on the MLS Board of Governors by CEO and controlling owner Carl H. Lindner III.
Whitman and Harsh, who are based in California, will be the first major investors from outside Cincinnati, but neither Whitman nor Harsh are strangers to the area.
“My wife, Martha, and I are thrilled to welcome such accomplished professionals and philanthropists as Meg and Griff to the FC Cincinnati family,” Lindner III said. “At the heart of our ownership group is a love and connection to Cincinnati. With Meg’s background and network in our city, she and her family are a perfect fit for our club. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise in support of our ambitions and goals. We expect Meg and Griff will play a large role not only at the club level but will also serve an influential role at the league level.”
Whitman began her career at Procter & Gamble Company’s corporate headquarters as a brand assistant before continuing her career with advancing positions at Bain & Company, The Walt Disney Company, Stride Rite, Florists’ Transworld Delivery and Hasbro. Whitman still serves on P&G’s Board of Directors.
“Cincinnati has a special place in my heart and I’m so pleased to join FC Cincinnati at this exciting juncture in the club’s history,” Whitman said. “FC Cincinnati and soccer have both already proven to be cultural forces in the market. Between the crowds at Nippert Stadium and the corporate commitments it has drawn, it’s a team with an exceptionally high ceiling. I’m looking forward to getting more deeply involved with the ownership group and helping elevate the club in the city, around the country and internationally.”
Whitman was part of the ownership group that tried to bring an MLS team to Sacramento. Whitman left that group before it was announced they needed more money to move forward.
Harsh is the Julian R. Youmans Chair in Neurological Surgery at the University of California.
“We’re very excited to join the ownership group in Cincinnati,” Harsh said. “We’ve been interested in getting involved with Major League Soccer for several years and FC Cincinnati was the perfect opportunity to invest in a club with such great ambitions. With our connections in the city, the disruptive nature of the club and the enthusiasm around the team, we see nothing but growth opportunities ahead for the team and the sport. We’re excited to get involved with the club and the league at this point in time.”
“I am very pleased to have Meg and Griff join Carl Lindner and his partners as part of FC Cincinnati’s ownership group,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “I have known Meg for many years and look forward to her contributing her tremendous business experience as a member of our Board of Governors.”