News — Dell Loy Hansen, who is currently being investigated by MLS and the NWSL for racist remarks, is set to sell his Utah Soccer Holdings. The decision came on Sunday, as Hansen is under fire after a report from The Athletic surfaced of his racist behavior at the clubs.
Hansen owns Real Salt Lake of MLS, the Utah Royals FC of the NWSL and Real Monarchs of the USL Championship. In a release from MLS and the NWSL, Hansen is “in the process” of selling the team. There will be new ownership by the time each league’s 2021 season rolls around.
This article features writing on the effect on the Royals from Rachael Kriger, as well as Daniel Sperry for the effect on Real Salt Lake’s multiple assets owned by Hansen.
Effect on RSL and the Monarchs
In reality, the biggest effect of everything might actually stem back to RSL player’s actions on Wednesday night (August 26, 2020). If they choose not to protest and sit out the match in solidarity with the rest of MLS teams doing so, as well as the MLB and NBA franchises, DLH never goes on the radio to make the statements that were the catalyst for an eventful four days. In less than 48 hours, DLH made the protests entirely about himself in Narcissistic fashion, which then snowballed into those who had worked near him or with him into finally coming out against him. The biggest trigger to it all was his comments about not wanting to invest in the team anymore.
Hansen is filthy rich. He could’ve sold one of his multi-million dollar coins to offset the losses he was going to endure during the pandemic, but no. In typical rich, white-guy fashion, DLH decided to furlough and even terminate the employment of a significant amount of people. His own players stepped up to help financially support a large chunk of those people when their owner decided not to. It was just an early sample size of the character of DLH, which has been fully exposed to the public at this point, revealing something as ugly as we all probably expected.
In a time where the character is judged by the things, you say as much as your actions, both of those things seem to line up behind the scenes for DLH. His wife asked for him to judge him by his actions, and so we will. He chose to furlough tons of workers despite being rich enough to support them. He then blamed the firings on the players for taking a stance of, “please stop killing black people for no reason,” and called them selfish. Those actions show the man doesn’t get it. And for that reason, he would’ve eventually cost the team, and the city millions.
Sponsors are less likely to support when someone is causing a brand they’re related to any sort of bad press. In the end, DLH selling on what he’s built with RSL is a good thing. It will get a group of assets that can net an ownership group a ton in revenue to actually make a difference in their community, not so much go and buy two coins for $3 million dollars.
As for the effect this entire situation has, honestly, for the players it’s probably a good thing he’s out. For the future business endeavors of MLS, it’s a good thing he’s out. And for the future of Real Salt Lake as a franchise, they will be better off with a group of investors, or an individual owner who would hopefully be a better human being than DLH. The bar is set low anyways.
What Dell Loy Hansen selling means for the men
Hopefully it keeps Nedum Onuoha around for a few more years. The man hasn’t been in Salt Lake City very long and already became a figure as gracious to the community as some of the NBA players. But in reality, the hope is that it brings in someone who can do two things: Continue the progress as an overall soccer club that RSL had under DLH, and make inroads with the communities in Salt Lake City that the club has yet to reach.
Very few MLS teams have inner-city initiatives set up, which is why the overall fanbase most teams cater to is the “white, soccer-mom” type of fanbase. Off the top of my head, Atlanta, LAFC, Toronto FC, and a few others have good, inner-city initiatives. SLC isn’t the most diverse area. But almost every city has it’s low, socio-economic neighborhoods. To immediately repair and boost image, finding a way into that community is a good place for RSL to start.
On the soccer side of things, DLH actually had the club going in a decent direction. Their academy and USL setup have proved fruitful. Their home-grown players are usually difference-makers. They have found a cost-effective way of building a solid base for their top tier squad. However, the team lacks a heavy scouting presence, emphasized by the fact that they furloughed their head scout and never have even reached out to him to come back. If the new owner can continue the progress made in the infrastructure, and invest in a decent scouting department, RSL could end up a juggernaut. After all, the city and the climate is wonderful and would attract plenty of players from similar areas of Europe.
Effect on Utah Royals FC
Tziarra King might be a rookie, but she has a voice and wisdom beyond her years.
King, who was drafted by the Utah Royals FC this past year, made her voice heard when allegations abuse were being brought forward. And, she made her voice known when Hansen remarked that calling off Wednesday night’s match took the “wind out” of his sails.
King took her voice to social media and criticized the owner of her club.
“Any player’s hope is to be in an environment where they are fully supported not only as a player, but most importantly as a person,” King wrote on Twitter. “For DLH to take this very real situation for the black community, and try to turn it around and make it about himself is completely unacceptable.”
King said that any type of message or apology DLH would send out would be contradictory. “I’m disappointed, but not surprised, by the lack of understanding in this situation,” she wrote.
“One thing I’m absolutely not going to do is use his privilege as an excuse for his comments,” King continued. “I hope that people, in this club and beyond, will choose accountability and empathy moving forward. I stand in complete solidarity with the decision of RSL players.”
Not long after the remarks were made by Hansen, the NWSL world saw a message from black players, uniting, forming a group, and releasing a statement.
We stand with our Black players. pic.twitter.com/BSszddWCMU
— NWSLPA (@nwsl_players) August 30, 2020
What does this mean for the Utah Royals?
The NWSL is a growing league. The Royals are a new franchise in the NWSL. In 2017, FC Kansas City folded and left the league with an empty slot. However, Hansen formed the Royals and acquired the rights to many of FCKC’s former players, including Becky Sauerbrunn.
Utah recently hosted the entire NWSL Challenge Cup at both Zion’s Bank Stadium and Rio Tinto Stadium. The tournament proved to be a success, with no positive cases on the ground in Utah.
The Royals are a newer team on the NWSL market, but have had success with filling seats at Rio Tinto. A new owner for the club would inherit a team with popular, good players. Women’s soccer is growing at a rapid rate in the United States — looking at expansion would tell anyone that, with Louisville, Sacramento and Angel City all slated to form teams by 2022.
Those interested in purchasing the team include J.J. Watt, Houston Texans linebacker and husband of Kealia Ohai Watt of the Chicago Red Stars.
“I see a club with a great fan base, fantastic facilities in a beautiful setting and most importantly a women’s team that can continue to help grow and amplify not only soccer, but women’s sports as a whole in this country,” Watt wrote on Twitter when asked about his interest in the Royals.