RSL to reduce staff, cut salary of executives

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen and his organization on Tuesday announced staff layoffs and pay reductions for club executives.

Real Salt Lake announced Tuesday that the organization will reduce the salary of staff and executives, as well as make staff cuts, due to Major League Soccer being on hiatus until at least May 10.

RSL said in its statement that it was recently informed that funding from the Federal CARES program — the $2 trillion stimulus package recently passed into law — will not be available to the organization. Because of that, cuts needed to be made. Furloughs to “some staff” are included.

“This is obviously a distressing outcome as we deeply value and appreciate each of our employees,” the organization’s statement reads.

Details about the cuts in staff and reductions of salary were not disclosed. As recently as two weeks ago, rumors circulated within the organization about layoffs, furloughs and reductions in salary. The Salt Lake Tribune learned on March 23 that RSL employees were worried about staff cuts in multiple departments and salary cuts of 40% for the employees who would stay.

But RSL appeared to backtrack on that plan once the rumors started to spread on social media. Staff meetings that had been scheduled during the day on March 23 were abruptly canceled late that night. The next day, no layoffs or furloughs were made.

Owner Dell Loy Hansen had reportedly no longer planned to cut staff or reduce salaries. That changed with Tuesday’s announcement.

“Upon the recommencement of league play, we will re-staff accordingly,” the statement says.

The news comes amid an uncertain time in sports from a financial standpoint. With the suspension or cancellation of seasons across several leagues, it’s left many game day employees without jobs.

In MLS, top executives, including Commissioner Don Garber, will reduce their salaries by up to 25%. The Philadelphia Union started an employee assistance fund to help game day workers affected by the league’s suspension.

Minnesota United, however, seems to have taken a different approach. The Red Loons, one of the team’s supporters groups, posted an email purportedly from the club advising employees to apply for unemployment or seek jobs from one of its three corporate partners.

RSL appears to be the first MLS club to make an official announcement regarding salary cuts, layoffs or furloughs.

Recently, several professional athletes have donated substantial amounts of money to help the arena workers affected by the loss of games due to COVID-19. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz made one such donation, and the Miller family added to it.

RSL for the last few weeks had also been working on a plan that would pay game day employees affected by the hiatus. But a club spokesperson said Tuesday those plans are now on hold.