Real Salt Lake is first MLS team to announce staff layoffs since shutdown

Real Salt Lake announced on Tuesday that it is laying off or furloughing some staff and reducing the salaries of other employees as a result of the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Real Salt Lake has teams in MLS, the NWSL (Utah Royals) and USL Championship (champion Real Monarchs) and operates a boys Development Academy program with a dormitory and high school at the Zions Bank Real Academy, a $78 million facility that opened in Herriman in 2018 and is now closed. (The Royals operate a girls Development Academy program in Phoenix.)

RSL did not indicate how the staff moves were broken down among its soccer organizations. It is the first MLS clubs to announce staff layoffs.

"Since Major League Soccer's postponement of all league matches until at least May 10, the club's executive team has been working diligently to develop a successful continuity plan to sustain operations during these extraordinarily difficult and unprecedented times caused by the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," RSL announced in a statement.

It said it was not eligible for federal relief under $2 million CARES Act that provides, among other things, loans for small businesses that will be fully or partially forgiven if they retain or rehire workers and pay overhead through June 30.

"As a result," the RSL statement continued, "we are forced to adapt and align our workforce appropriately to face these new challenges and difficult circumstances. This will require a reduction in salary for all executives and staff as well as a decrease in staffing levels across the organization, which includes a furlough of some of our staff members. This is obviously a distressing outcome as we deeply value and appreciate each of our employees."

The club added "it will re-staff accordingly" after league play resumes.

Other layoffs. Two USL Championship teams have announced layoffs. The North Carolina Football Club, which comprises the USL Championship's North Carolina FC and NWSL champion NC Courage, announced furloughs, while Memphis 901 FC, the second-year USL Championship team, and Class AAA Memphis Redbirds, its sister baseball club, confirmed layoffs of 18 full-time employees as well as furloughs.

Hansen portfolio. RSL is owned by Dell Loy Hansen, who initially joined the RSL ownership group in October 2009 and acquired full ownership of the team from founding owner Dave Checketts in January 2013.

Hansen is the president of Wasatch Property Management, which he founded in 1988 and whose real estate portfolio -- 12,000 apartment buildings, five condo buildings and 20 commercial buildings -- was worth  in excess of $1.2 billion, according to the club web site. Other holdings include businesses in recycling and waste disposal, plastic injection and molding, a wood mill and a golf course. He is also big in solar energy.

Hansen made national news in 2019 when he paid $1.32 million for a dime at a Chicago coin auction, a 1894-S Barber Dime, one of only 24 ever made.

Photo: Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire

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