New Jersey First Lady to get more involved with Sky Blue

The wife of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says she’ll take a more active role in running Sky Blue, the professional women’s soccer club based in the state.

The Murphys are part owners of the National Women’s Soccer League team, whose facilities and player accommodations have been criticized.

“We recognize there have been challenges, but I am looking forward to working with our team to create a climate of success,” Tammy Murphy said in a statementTuesday. “We are excited about the new players who are now a part of the Sky Blue family, and we can’t wait to see them join our returning players. But above all, we appreciate the dedication and loyalty of our fans.”

Last summer multiple reports surfaced that Sky Blue players faced substandard playing and living conditions, following cryptic comments by former forward Sam Kerr. The team had no restrooms or running water at its training facility, and some players were housed in apartments where cardboard or plastic covered broken windows, among other issues. Sky Blue won just one game last season.

The team’s supporters group, Cloud 9, has called for the firing of Sky Blue president and general manager Tony Novo.

Sky Blue’s two top draft picks this year, Hailie Mace (second overall) and Julia Ashley (sixth overall), have opted to play elsewhere. Ashley, a New Jersey native, will play in Sweden. Midfielder Carli Lloyd is the team’s lone allocated U.S. national team player.

In her statement, Tammy Murphy pointed to “upscale apartments and new furnishings” for the players. She also said staff would be increased by 40 percent, and administrative offices would be moved closer to player housing.

Tammy Murphy also suggested that both practice and playing facilities would be improved, but offered no specifics. She promised additional information would be shared shortly.