CHICAGO – What was feared has become official.

The Boston Breakers are no more.

The National Women’s Soccer League announced Sunday day that the Breakers will cease operations, effective immediately.

The Breakers’ demise had been rumored and talked about in the media for days, with possible new ownership on the horizon, which never materialized.

The 2018 season will feature a nine-team, single-table alignment with a 24-game schedule that will see each club play three games against every opponent.

The Breakers played in all three U.S. women’s professional soccer league since 2001, first competing in the Women’s United Soccer Association, Women’s Professional Soccer and the NWSL.

“The Boston Breakers are one of the longest running and most historic clubs in women’s soccer, so we certainly understand that fans of the NWSL and the sport will be disappointed to learn of the club’s decision to cease operations,” NWSL managing director Amanda Duffy said in a statement. “In the best interest for the long-term viability of the NWSL, we will operate with nine clubs in 2018 to ensure a stronger league where all parties involved are aligned and committed to the core mission of continued growth and development as we move into our sixth season.”

Breakers fans who have placed deposits on their 2018 season tickets will be contacted and provided full refunds.

“We do not doubt the fan support or interest in women’s soccer in Boston or New England, and the measure taken by the Breakers organization does not reflect the passion we have seen from our fans,” Duffy said. “We sincerely thank you for your years of commitment, and we look forward to one day returning to the city of Boston.”

The NWSL will conduct a dispersal draft of the Breakers roster at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday. All Boston players will be placed into a draft pool – including players selected in the 2018 College Draft. The weighted draw for the dispersal draft order will be determined the morning of Monday.

Players may opt-out of the draft by noon ET Monday to pursue opportunities outside of the league and would not become discovery eligible to return to the league until after the end of the 2018 season. Teams will be allowed to trade their picks in the draft following the weighted draw until 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, following which a final dispersal draft order will be released.

For the 2018 season, NWSL roster size will remain unchanged with a minimum of 18 players and a maximum of 20 players required for each club.

Contracted players (including allocated players) and 2018 draft picks selected via the dispersal draft will not count against the club’s official 18-20 player roster for the 2018 season. Teams can add up to a total of four players. They will not count against its salary cap for this season. Housing and auto expenses also will not count against the permitted team assistance cap. Teams will be responsible for all additional salary and permitted team assistance expenses for contracted players and 2018 draftees selected in the dispersal draft.

Players on Boston’s discovery list and retired players whose rights are selected and go on to sign a standard player agreement will count against the club’s official 18-20 player roster for the 2018 season. These players also will count against the club’s salary cap for the 2018 season, nd all expenses will count against the permitted team assistance cap.

Any team requiring an international roster spot for a contracted player and 2018 draftee selected will receive an additional international spot, which will stay with the player if traded during the current season.

Any player participating the dispersal draft who is not selected will immediately become discovery eligible.