MLS commissioner says there is ‘absolutely no plan’ to move RSL

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber speaks during the Major League Soccer 25th Season kickoff event in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday that there is “absolutely no plan” to move Real Salt Lake from the Utah market. His comments came in response to a question during his annual MLS State of the League address.

Garber said Salt Lake City has been a “great” market for the league and RSL has enjoyed on-field success and continues to enjoy it. Conversations with Dell Loy Hansen, who is selling Utah Soccer Holdings, continue to be “productive,” he said.

Garber added that there are several interested parties to buy RSL.

“I think Salt Lake has been a great market for Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “It’s been a good market for the Monarchs and for the Royals as well. ... There is absolutely no plan whatsoever to move that team.”

Garber’s comments come one day after Royals FC officially announced the franchise was moving to Kansas City under new ownership there.

Hansen has been trying to tell Utah Soccer since late August. There were indications Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith was in serious talks with Hansen to purchase it when news came out that he took a tour of the organization’s soccer facilities in mid-September.

Those talks with Hansen, however, did not go well, and Smith later realized a dream when he bought controlling interest of the Utah Jazz. He remains interested in purchasing RSL, per The Athletic.

Sources told The Salt Lake Tribune that throughout the sale process, as many as six individuals or groups have expressed interest is buying the organization. Other than Smith, at least one other local group has toured the facilities, sources said.

Hansen has until Jan. 8 to sell RSL. Garber said MLS is prepared to take over the sale process of all elements within Utah Soccer.

“While we’re not announcing that that’s happening today, our right to take over the sale process is soon and it’s more likely than not that we will be assuming that role in the weeks — I’ll just say within the next 30 days,” Garber said.

Utah Soccer now consists of RSL and the Real Monarchs, along with Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy and Real Salt Lake Training Academy in Herriman.

Hansen chose to sell the teams and facilities after allegations surfaced that he made racist and sexist comments in his time as owner. MLS and the National Women’s Soccer League subsequently launched investigations into his conduct.

Garber said the MLS investigation was completed “several weeks ago” and its findings will be released after MLS Cup.