MLS takes over Real Salt Lake sale process

MLS has taken over the Real Salt Lake sale process and oversee the sale of the MLS team, the Real Monarchs, Rio Tinto Stadium and the training complex in Herriman, according to a local report.

Owner Dell Loy Hansen was forced by MLS to sell his extensive soccer holdings after allegations of racist behavior were reported in the local press, but despite talks with local community leaders, he was unable to pull off a deal before a Jan. 8 deadline set up by MLS. He did, however, transfer his stake in the Utah Royals (NWSL), resulting in the team being removed from the league and a new Kansas City team launched. However, the Royals name, branding and records could be used by a new pro-soccer entity once RSL and its assets are sold.

The report was first published on the Salt Lake Tribune.

With the order that a sale must be completed by Jan. 8, Hansen was in a lame-duck situation and had little leverage in closing a deal with investors; indeed, the talk is that the sales process was purposely stalled, with potential buyers betting that MLS–under the gun with the 2021 season looming–would strike a better deal than Hansen would. And, according to the Tribune, there were buyers interest, including Ryan Smith, the new owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz. From the Tribune:

Smith is still interested in buying RSL, the source said. That is buttressed by recent comments he’s made publicly. The most recent comments came on a podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, where Smith discussed going to previous Jazz owner Gail Miller about buying RSL in a joint venture.

“A soccer team came available and I talked to the Millers [and asked] ‘Would you wanna be in it with me?’ and the reality is they were like, ‘Well, no,’” Smith said on the podcast. “And I said, ‘Well how bout if I buy the soccer team and we put it together with the Jazz?’”….

Smith’s dealings with Hansen did not go well, and it’s been reported that Smith might just be waiting until MLS takes over the sales process to reengage in discussions to buy RSL. But there may be an international ownership group already involved in soccer competing with Smith for Utah Soccer Holdings.

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