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The State of The Mane Land

Changes aren’t permanent but change is.

David Rohe, The Mane Land

Today was a difficult day for The Mane Land. As many of you may know, Vox Media reportedly laid off 7% of its workforce today due to “economic downturn” and the casualties included most of SBNation’s NHL sites and all MLS blogs and nearly — if not all — of the network’s soccer podcasts. These cuts should not affect our coverage between now and the end of February, however, after that things are a bit more murky.

I started The Mane Land as a free WordPress site back on Sept. 23, 2014 and we moved to SBNation officially on Nov. 24, 2014. We gained the trust of SBNation management back then with our quick growth in pageviews and on social media, and that trend has continued in our more than eight years of existence. In that time, we have added coverage of the NWSL’s Orlando Pride and the club’s developmental team, Orlando City B. We added a podcast to our offerings on Dec. 4, 2014, which I hosted in the beginning with Andrew Marcinko. We had 20 different combinations of hosts in our first 70 episodes, but the last 252 have been hosted by myself and David Rohe.

We have had 90 people who have been part of our staff over the years either as writers, editors, photographers, graphic artists, social media managers, or moderators — or some combination of those roles. Some of those people have gone on to work for the club we cover regularly. Some have gone on to become communications professionals for NWSL teams or writers for the Orlando Sentinel, Soccer By Ives, or the MLS website. I’m very proud that our little blog played a role in those folks landing such great and exciting gigs.

The reason I started this site was to express my passion for Orlando City SC and to meet and exchange thoughts, ideas, and arguments with others who shared that passion. While that mission has been realized, with thousands of social media followers and daily readers of this website, and lots of friends made along the way, it has not concluded. That mission still exists.

My intention is for The Mane Land to continue. I have no idea at the moment what that will look like, but there are some options and I’ll begin that journey in a few days, after taking some time through the weekend to process today’s events. This includes the continuation of The Mane Land PawedCast. It appears, at least at the moment, that Vox is going to be cool about letting us keep the name we created. This is important to me, because I not only named our site (prior to joining SBNation), but also Minnesota United’s site, E Pluribus Loonum, bears the name that I suggested in our SBN Soccer Slack chat, so I’d like those to live on.

What I can tell you right now is that I have a worst-case scenario in mind to continue covering Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and OCB as best we can. My hope is that all current TML staff come along with me, but if today has taught me anything, it’s that anything can (and does) happen. We also plan to keep our current social media channels on Twitter and Facebook as they are now, although a new logo is likely going to be needed.

At some point, when it is appropriate, we will make an announcement about the future of The Mane Land and The Mane Land PawedCast. I hope to have that in place by the middle of February.

Just in case this whole thing implodes, and we are never heard from again after Feb. 28, I wanted to thank every single person who has read a story on this website, listened to an episode of the PawedCast, left us a comment, sent us an email, met up with us at, before, or after a match, followed us on social media, or somehow interacted with us in any way I haven’t yet mentioned. You have no idea what it means to me, or to all of us.

While SBN has paid me a modest monthly stipend through the years, it hasn’t begun to cover the hours I’ve spent trying to make this the best Orlando City website I possibly could, and most of our staffers are completely voluntary. I’ve kept at it (and I assume the other TML staffers have, too) because I still have that same passion for telling the story of Orlando City SC. I still love discussing the club, sharing the stories behind the matches, the coaches, the players, etc. I would do this (and have done it) for free. It would be a lot cooler if I didn’t have to, but we’ll see where it goes.

So, the question I’ve been asked repeatedly today is: “Is there anything I can do to help?” And the answer is that I’m not sure, but it’s very likely that yes, you can. The simplest solution for us is to just find a new host and hope we get control of the domain name at the end of February or slightly alter our domain. Domain registration and hosting and podcast hosting don’t have to be expensive, but there is still some expense involved and, more importantly, there’s the loss of income on top of it.

As I said, it’s a modest stipend (and some of our contributors get even less), but it’s still something, so going from a net positive to a negative isn’t a great option. To that end, we may end up doing something like a GoFundMe to pay for it or have a Patreon subscription section or some kind of “tip jar” — such as Buy Me a Coffee — to help offset costs. That’s where you can help (if it comes to that). Alternately, if you own a business, especially here in the Orlando area, and you’d like to advertise with us on the podcast, at our new home, or both, we can certainly talk about what that might look like, and it’s a business expense. So, there are some things folks can do to help.

In all honesty, one of the biggest pain points about ending our time at SBN is image licensing. So just having folks join us as photographers would help.

Thanks again for your support, understanding, and patience. We’ll get word to you about our next steps as soon as we have something to report.

I need a beer.