Seattle Sounders owner: MLS could lose billions due to coronavirus

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  • Seattle Sounders owner: MLS could lose billions due to coronavirus 1

    Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

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      Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.

Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer says MLS teams’ financial losses will be “astronomical” due to the leaguewide shutdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the website Sounder At Heart, Hanauer said the league’s losses could reach in the billions.

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“Hundreds of millions, billions, really big numbers,” he said. “But the MLS ownership is solid and committed to the league and their teams long term.”

Hanauer pegged the Sounders’ losses in the “tens of millions of dollars.”

MLS has been shut down since March 12, with its teams just two games into a 34-match regular season. The league has set a return date of May 10, though sources told ESPN on Wednesday that MLS is poised to postpone matches through June 8. There is currently a training moratorium in place that is scheduled to end on April 24, though that is likely to be extended as well.

MLS has been criticized over the years for its single-entity structure, a system by which all player contracts are held by the league and where there is no system of promotion and relegation. But Hanauer contends that the system has been a benefit during the crisis.

“The ownership is rock solid,” he said, adding that “some of those [single-entity] principles are what will allow this league to survive and thrive coming out the other end.”

Hanauer revealed during the interview that his senior staff, including coaches, had taken voluntary pay cuts, with those affected opting to make donations to the Sounders Relief Fund. Hanauer has matched their contributions, which now stand at $600,000. That fund is designed to help small businesses, nonprofits and individuals in and around the neighborhoods surrounding CenturyLink Field.

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